Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, April 8, 2020
Employees working at home have many options when it comes to staying in touch with coworkers and clients while working from home. With the sudden move to working from home, there was a sudden shift in market share. This MetaFAQs draws on the April 2020 MetaFacts Pulse Survey to identify which platforms employees have been using for their work-related and personal video communications, further split by video conferences versus video calls.
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.
Convenience is the surest bet to reach technology consumers. When it comes to voice assistants, it’s important that convenience be handy. It shouldn’t be surprising that consumers first choose what’s familiar and close to hand. More are actively speaking to devices they’ve already had before using smart speakers.
Among American adults, five times as many use a Smartphone than a smart speaker to access a voice assistant. This is based on results from the most recent wave of TUP (Technology User Profile). Nearly half, 46%, of online adults in the US used a Smartphone to access a voice assistant such as Apple Siri. One in five, 20%, used a Tablet. Smart speakers, such as an Amazon Echo or Dot were only being used by one in eleven, 9%, of online US adults.
Among those using a Smartphone to reach their voice assistant, the median household spending for technology devices and services for the full prior year of 2017 is $4,500. By comparison, those using a tablet to reach their voice assistant average $6,750, and those using a smart speaker average $6,560.
At first glance, it may seem compelling that smart speaker users are much bigger spenders. Their median spending for home technology devices and services is double the average online adult. However, tablets are more compelling. Those who use tablets to reach their voice assistants spend a bit more than smart speaker users, at $6,750. More importantly, they are more numerous. In fact, there are more than twice as many, with tablet voice assistant users making up 20% of online adults.
Looking at total spending, Smartphone voice assistant users are putting their money where their mouth is. Although their average spending on technology devices and services is lower than tablet or speaker voice assistant users, there are so many more of them their total spending is higher.
Consumers are still experimenting with voice assistants, regardless of device. Although smart speakers are getting a lot of attention, it’s worth keeping an eye, and ear, on tablets and smartphones. After all, money talks.
About this TUPdate
This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2018 survey, its 36th consecutive wave. Similar results are available through TUP fielded in Europe and Asia. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.
Clouds Forming – A TUPdate by Dan Ness, April 13, 2017
The terms “free” and “unlimited” continue to entice consumers and employees alike, in offers of faster bandwidth to larger data storage. The promise of enormous, convenient, and always-available storage space is helping Google, Apple, and Microsoft attract and retain customers within their fold. It’s also helping Amazon and the many other dedicated Cloud Storage/Sharing services, even while many offerings may be risking consumer and corporate security and privacy.
Cloud Storage and Sharing services have tapped into core needs, reaching a high share of American adult consumers and employees. We Americans like our stuff, and we love convenience. As surely as we pile clutter into garages and self-storage facilities, we accumulate countless zettabytes of images, music, movies, pre-binged TV episodes, documents, among other files. We also want to know our stuff is safe and can be easily retrieved whenever and wherever we want it. Continue reading “Clouds Forming (TUPdate)”
In a world dominated by Microsoft Windows PCs, it can take conscious effort to only use Apple Macs. Also, with an abundance of Google Android and Windows tablets available from many companies, it can take a special loyalty to choose an iPad and also a Mac. Furthermore, with the widest assortment of Smartphones being from anyone but Apple, it’s a further statement of preference and choice to have only Apple devices.
One in eight (13%) of adults with any connected device have in fact made these choices, and are only using Apple Smartphones, Tablets, or PCs, assiduously avoiding Windows or Google Android or Chrome OS devices.
Who are these Apple-only users? Are they only the socioeconomically elite? Well, yes and no. They do have higher incomes than the average American.
Among adults with only Apple devices, 27% have household incomes of $100,000 or more. This is and index of 137 above the national average for Connected Adults.
This is based on our most recent research among 7,336 US adults as part of the Technology User Profile (TUP) 2016 survey.
This MetaFAQs research result addresses one of the many questions profiling active technology users.
Many other related answers are part of the full TUP service, available to paid subscribers. The TUP chapter with substantial information about Apple-Only users is the TUP 2016 Devices Chapter. Other TUP chapters detail iPhones, iPads, Macs, and the overall brand footprint.
These MetaFAQs are brought to you by MetaFacts, based on research results from their most-recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP).
For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.