Search results for

All search results
Best daily deals

Affiliate links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

Turns out Spotify can't open-source Car Thing because it's a potato

The device is basically open-source, but not open for much.

Published onJune 6, 2024

Spotify stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Spotify has been facing criticism for deciding to brick its Car Thing devices by the end of the year, rendering them useless.
  • Tech journalist Josh Hendrickson revealed that the Car Thing runs on Linux and is actually open source.
  • The device’s extremely weak specs make it impractical for running anything beyond its intended web-based media player.

Spotify recently made headlines with its decision to deactivate all Car Thing devices by the end of this year. The streaming giant ceased sales of the ill-fated gadget a couple of years ago. However, the announcement to completely deactivate functional devices sparked a significant backlash among users.

Many wondered why the company couldn’t simply open-source the hardware, which would have allowed users to repurpose the devices instead of adding to the growing problem of electronic waste. Turns out, the Car Thing is already open for flashing new software. This revelation comes from Josh Hendrickson (@Anoraker on YouTube), who recently shared his findings on X/Twitter.

According to Hendrickson, Spotify has technically already made the Car Thing as open source as possible. It runs on Linux, and the source code for the device’s U-boot and Linux kernel is publicly available on GitHub. Additionally, the device’s Amlogic chip allows for easy access to BootRom mode, enabling users to run custom code and even add their own software.

So why didn’t Spotify publicize this?

Hendrickson believes it’s due to the device’s hardware limitations. With a weak Amlogic processor, 4GB of eMMC storage, and only 512MB of RAM, the device is too underpowered to run anything more demanding than its intended lightweight web-based media player.

While the Car Thing is theoretically open for 'hacking,' its feeble performance makes any significant repurposing almost pointless.

This revelation sheds a new light on the Car Thing debacle, making it feel even more disappointing. As Hendrickson puts it, the device is now essentially “open-source e-waste.” For those curious about this saga, he plans to drop a detailed video soon, diving deeper into the technical aspects of Car Thing.

In hindsight, creating a $100 device just to run a web music player does seem a bit over the top, especially considering the numerous ways to achieve the same outcome using existing technology. Whether through improved integration with car infotainment systems or leveraging the capabilities of smartphones, there were certainly more efficient and eco-friendly paths Spotify could have taken.

Got a tip? Talk to us! Email our staff at You can stay anonymous or get credit for the info, it's your choice.

You might like