Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, November 14, 2020
The penetration of Apple iPads has shifted over the last five years, with larger households behaving differently than smaller ones. This MetaFAQs reports on the active market penetration of Apple iPads by household size in the US, UK, and Germany.
Most Americans value their privacy, although many have resigned themselves to having less, while others are taking steps to better safeguard theirs. Are privacy concerns a factor affecting the behavior or everyday Americans? Do attitudes and beliefs around privacy affect technology usage? Do Americans trust some brands more than others? How widely held is a need for online privacy?
To address these questions, we conducted a short survey among online Americans in May 2019 as part of the preparation for TUP/Technology User Profile 2019.
Our research results show that many online Americans are willing to live with inner conflict, finding a balance between their fears and their quest for convenience. Even those feeling strongly are still using systems they distrust.
The Innocent Need Not Worry – Agree?
An idea that’s been mentioned around privacy debates for more than 100 years goes something like: “why do you need privacy if you’ve done nothing wrong?” We asked respondents how strongly they agree or disagree. Their responses reveal a strong split among online Americans – more than any other question we asked in this survey. Nearly half (55%) disagreed or strongly disagreed that “Anyone who has done nothing wrong not worry about their privacy”. A smaller yet substantial number (37%) disagreed. There’s widespread and growing concern about online privacy, along with acceptance that online, nothing is really private.
Worry-Free Innocents are Bigger Tech Adopters
The strength of belief in “nothing to hide” exposes a wide split among online Americans in usage rates of certain technology: namely home security cameras and voice assistants. Among the “Innocent need not worry”, the use of home security cameras (such as from Arlo) are being used at more than three times the rate than among the “Innocent should worry.” There have been many widely reported breaches of cloud-stored images, especially among some of the earliest cloud camera implementations.
The use of or avoidance of voice assistants is also split by attitude, with usage rates being roughly twice as high among the “Innocent need not worry” versus the “Innocent should worry”. As with breached cameras, there have been mainstream reports about voice recordings or listening devices being compromised.
Usage rates of iPhones and Android smartphones is not markedly different between these groups, nor is the use of social networks Nextdoor or Facebook. However, iPad usage is higher among the “Innocent need not worry”.
Facebook Least Trusted
A bigger issue facing Facebook is that of trust, or more accurately, lack of trust. Americans trust Facebook least of all among Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. Within the last several years, everyday consumers have been alerted to a series of privacy breaches in news reports in mainstream news. Although tech-oriented users have been cognizant of the inherent threats to privacy from their online activities, these concerns have broadened into the general public. Just over one-fourth (27%) of online Americans distrust Facebook while 23% similarly distrust Google, saying they trust them “Not at all” or “To little extent”. And, only slightly more than one-third (36%) say they do trust Facebook, in strong contrast to the majority who report trust of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft.
Cognitive Dissonance, Denial, or Cluelessness?
There are many in technology and marketing circles who dismiss privacy concerns, pointing out that although many people express concerns, they then paradoxically go ahead to use or buy that which they distrust, despite their awareness and fears. That display of cognitive dissonance is clearest among users of Facebook’s properties. Of those who use Facebook, Instagram or, WhatsApp, only 39% say they trust Facebook. That’s half the trust rate among Apple’s users, where over three-fourths (77%) express trust.
Distrust is also strong among Facebook’s users, with 20% saying they trust Facebook “Not at all” or “To little extent”. Google isn’t much better off, with nearly a quarter (23%) of their users expressing distrust of Google. Apple, on the other hand, has only 8% of its users expressing distrust.
Apple’s Head Start on Perception of Privacy
Within the last year, Apple has increased its marketing around privacy. Apple’s current customers are already more privacy-oriented than the average online American. A higher share describe themselves as being more careful about their privacy than most people, and noting that they’ve been taken advantage of often. This predisposes them to be more receptive to privacy as a reason to choose Apple’s products and services over others.
As a marketing issue, online privacy is likely to continue getting stronger and more widespread. Most likely the word privacy will be defined and redefined in many different ways by each entity, leading to further market confusion. Apple’s privacy-oriented and aware customers are likely to continue as such, solidifying their reliance on Apple. In contrast, non-Apple customers will be less and less likely to switch to Apple as they’re mollified by promises of privacy from Google, Facebook, and others. The perceptual gap around privacy issues will be further eroded by claims. Meanwhile, as adoption of voice assistant and smart home devices expands, we can expect continued reports of data breaches and privacy failures. Realistically, these privacy events are unlikely to discourage users from using their existing services to any large degree. Convenience, habit, denial, and acceptance (aka resignation) are strong forces among online Americans. In other words, we can expect more of the same.
We’re going to see a rising challenge to offer convenience while truly managing privacy. Makers of products with capabilities that everyday users may associate with privacy risks – such as those with integrated voice assistants or cloud cameras – will need to be aware of the market’s needs for privacy, and likely offer alternate versions without these capabilities. Or, makers of these products will need to offer settings that will assure privacy, such as ways for nontechnical users to confirm sensors such as microphones or cameras are inoperable. Even products that track personal information in ways less obvious to regular consumers – such as tracking multiple factors such as location, device ID (such as MAC address), viewing habits, or other behaviors – will need to address privacy beyond the usual license agreement. I expect we’ll see alternate “privacy” versions of smart home products from wireless speakers to TVs and thermostats that are designed to have limited or no tracking.
At the end of the day, privacy will continue as an important product feature, added to the list of speeds, feeds, and checklists that consumers will use as they choose what they buy or avoid.
About this TUPdate
The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the most-recent wave of TUP (Technology User Profile), the 2018 edition which is TUP’s 36th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults. This specific wave spanned the US, UK, Germany, India, and China. In the TUP survey, we identified the connected devices being actively used, from those acquired with home/personal funds to those that are owned by employers, schools, or others. From these, we selected adults who are using at least one home PC.
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.
Among Voice Assistant users, Apple AirPods have the most-recent use of a listening device, with 78% having used it on the day we surveyed them. This high active-usage rate is closely followed by Apple Notebook or Desktop Macs.
Android Smartphones rank last for this most-recent-use measure, although rank 1st for having been used within the prior week.
This is based on the MetaFacts Voice User Profile survey conducted in February 2018. This survey was conducted in late February shortly after the release of the Apple HomePod, so too soon to measure the impact of Apple’s new Smart Speaker on the marketplace.
We’re in a time of experimentation, as technology users are finding their voice. The novelty of voice-control is still fresh, and it remains to be seen whether Voice Assistants will be regularly used by more than a few tech enthusiasts.
Voice Assistant use has reached a greater share of the public’s attention, especially following Amazon’s aggressive push into Smart Speakers and enabling Alexa across a broader range of devices. Similarly, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant, and Samsung Bixby have garnered renewed attention, and are slowly starting to come into everyday use.
Measuring recency of use is an important indicator of true usage levels. It’s one thing for consumers to play with the features of their new technology devices. It’s another thing for them to incorporate something like Voice Assistant use throughout their day.
Related research results
The MetaFacts Voice User Profile includes other related analysis, including:
The topics Voice Assistant users ask about: weather, scheduling, music, entertainment, home automation, and more
Which Voice Assistant systems are being actively used, on which platforms, and which segments they are attracting
Which listening devices are being actively used – from Smart Speakers to Smartphones and Headsets
Where Voice Assistant users will – and won’t – do their talking: in restaurants, driving, while walking, and many other locations and settings
How well – or poorly – users experience their Voice Assistants, and how performance metrics vary by system and listening device
How many adults are active Voice Assistant users, how many are former users, and how many have never tried one
Reasons given why consumers have never used a Voice Assistant, as well as why former users aren’t currently active users
The information in this MetaFAQ is based on a survey of 525 online adults during February 2018 as part of the MetaFacts Voice User Profile. The study universe included active Voice Assistant users, former Voice Assistant users, as well as consumers who have never used a Voice Assistant. Current TUP (Technology User Profile) subscribers can obtain the results of this newest research at a discount. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.
Inexorable Device Trends – Beyond the Niche, Fad, and Fizzle – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, March 10, 2017
It can be exciting to see the hockey-stick charts, with everything up and to the right. It’s important to put the numbers into context, though, through a more grounded analysis of the active installed base. Yes, Apple’s long-climb into broader use of their triumvirate is substantial, Smartphones are quickly replacing basic cell phones, and PCs and Printers persist. Their market size confirms their importance.
We humans are wired to notice change. Our very eyes send more information about motion than background. While life-saving should tigers head our way, this capability can be our undoing if we miss gradual changes, like the slithering snake in the grass creeping towards us. Watching an installed base of technology has some parallels. For some, it can seem as if nothing is really changing even while important shifts are taking place.
For over 35 years, I have tracked technology usage trends and profiles, all calibrated by watching customers through surveys such as our Metafacts Technology User Profile. Among other truisms, I’ve seen that true technology trends aren’t sudden. Solid trends are the summation of the habits, preferences, and activities of millions of technology users. They’re inescapable, inexorable, and years in the making. Trends become truly important when they’ve spread beyond being a niche, fad, or fizzle, and reached beyond those first few early adopters.
Tablet-First. Is it a thing? – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, February 17, 2017
Which comes first – Smartphone? Tablet? Notebook? For a small and steadily growing segment, the tablet comes first as the primary connected device.
Over the last three years, the share of connected adults using a tablet as their primary device has expanded. In our 2014 wave of TUP, we found that 6% of adults were using a tablet as their primary device – before a PC, mobile phone, or game console. In TUP 2015, the Tablet-First rate had grown to 7% and by TUP 2016, reached 9%.
It’s not as if these Tablet-First users are only using a tablet. Among Tablet-First users, half (50%) use a Smartphone as their secondary device, followed distantly by a Tower Desktop (15%), Basic cell phone (10%), and Notebook PC (9%). Continue reading “Tablet-First. Is it a thing? (TUPdate)”