Privacy is on the mind of savvy early adopters as they resist location sharing – A MetaFacts TUPdate

A MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, Principal Analyst

Are early adopters starting to act like laggards? It may seem a paradox that the most forward-thinking consumers – the first to adopt smartphones – would also be the ones more strongly avoiding unique smartphone features.

The true answer is that consumers are more complex and intelligent than simplistic adoption curve analysis suggests. In choosing mobile phones, they are navigating between the sirens and rocks of enticing deals, identity theft, entertainment, carrier signal strength (or weakness), desire for social connections, misinformation, privacy, trust, and much more.

When it comes to data security & privacy, most Smartphone users express concern and corresponding action. A higher share of Smartphone than Basic Mobile Phone users take steps to protect their security and privacy, including disabling some features.

Privacy Concerns for Smartphones and Basic Mobile Phones

Location services have been integral to Smartphones and Feature Phones for years and most handsets give subscribers the option to minimize tracking. However, recent widely publicized breaches have brought this closer to the forefront of consumer’s buying behavior.

Age and gender alone do not truly define the privacy-aware from others; correcting for age shows that tech experience matters. Most Smartphone users today have more tech experience than average users, so are savvy about settings and controls and have privacy and security concerns for PCs which are inherited by their Smartphones.

App developers which assume settings will be on by default, such as location identification, will encounter market resistance. Privacy and Security are issues which can suddenly inflame public sentiment. Even though customers may have read agreements and adjusted their privacy & security settings, many have an expectation of being private and secure.

Consumers vote with their responses, as well as their fingers and wallets. Building (or rebuilding) trust is a widespread issue, and certainly not only in the U.S. Each participant in the ecosystem of handling personally identifiable information has their part to play if location-based services and mobile payments are to flourish and last longer than fads. MetaFacts expects that privacy and security will continue to stay a concern among many consumers with reported breaches beyond those specifically on Smartphones – from identify theft to Wikileaks reports.


The results in this TUPdate are drawn from the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Survey. In our most recent wave of Technology User Profile, we surveyed American adults about their use of mobile phones, technology attitudes, and many other behavioral and socioeconomic factors. Current TUP subscribers can access and drill down more deeply into this phenomenon using TUP Interactive Access or with their datasets.

We started this analysis by first looking at the answers from 8,175 U.S. respondents in the Technology User Profile service and then drilled down further into their profiles to get a more complete picture.

Contact MetaFacts to access the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition report, which covers the broader range of key trends. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically.

These editions are for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

To see other research coverage of Internet products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, demographics, and attitudes – see the many other questions TUP answers on Tech market research professionals who want a solid resource they can use immediately after industry events such as mergers, or even use prior to anticipated events, can license direct access to TUP.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry trends and facts. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts helps technology marketers find and measure their best and future customers. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile (TUP) survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. TUP analyzes key trends and the data-rich source can be dived into more deeply for custom analysis. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

One Reply to “Privacy is on the mind of savvy early adopters as they resist location sharing – A MetaFacts TUPdate”

  1. An update to this TUPdate: Forbes is calling it “LocationGate” and Congress has reportedly summoned Apple & Google to testify on Capitol Hill. Looking further into what consumers say, it’s not only about the iPhone or Android Smartphones or Tablets. In fact, privacy concerns are related more strongly to carrier than handset or mobile OS. T-Mobile Smartphone subscribers have the highest privacy concerns.

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