Research: Privacy still a concern for smart speaker users

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A study from Hub suggests that privacy is still a major issue for users of voice control on any device, as well as among potential buyers of smart speakers.

Highlights from its research report, titled The Case for Voice Control, reveals:

  1. In spite of consumers’ concerns, smart speakers are poised to play a pivotal role in the discovery and consumption of entertainment content.  About three quarters of smart speaker owners use their smart speaker to search for media content – music, TV programmes, movies, podcast, or audiobooks.
  • And about two thirds of smart speaker owners use their device to control playback of media on the device itself or on other devices to which it is connected.
  • Aside from media, other key categories of use of smart speakers include answering questions (such as search, navigation) and getting information (such as news, weather, calendars), cited by about two thirds of smart speaker users. Lesser used categories include communication, smart home, and retail.
  1. Concerns about privacy and security are a significant roadblock to both wider use of voice control for sensitive topics and ownership of smart speakers.
  • Among those who don’t yet have a smart speaker and don’t intend to buy one, two thirds (66 per cent) say that privacy concerns are an important reason for not buying.
  • But it’s an issue even for existing users – 59 per cent of those who regularly use voice control have concerns about privacy.
  • Almost all users of voice control with privacy concerns cite worries about unwanted listening by speakers (91 per cent) and concerns about what data is being collected about users (90 per cent).
  1. Yet in spite of privacy concerns, voice command technology is already familiar to mainstream consumers. Including all types of devices – smartphones, tablets, computers, remote controls, smart speakers, and in-car – 80 per cent of consumers say they’ve used voice command technology at some point. Among younger consumers age 16-35 it’s even higher (88 per cent ever used).

“This new report shows just how pervasive voice control is, and how quickly consumers have embraced it, even if they have major privacy concerns,” says David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and co-author of the study.  “These privacy issues may be a key reason why ‘retail’ uses (e.g., shopping, financial) lag well behind other activities like entertainment on smart speakers.”


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