Survey: 41% of users have privacy concerns with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and other voice assistants
For the past decade, touch interactions have dominated how we communicate with our mobile devices. But soon, voice searches will be dominating our interactions and are likely to grow at 40% annually. Since most of the voice interactions are expected to take place through AI virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, and timid Cortana, Microsoft asked some thousands of consumers about their perception of voice assistants and published its finding in a recent whitepaper. The results in this paper elucidate various trends about assistants and smart speakers as well as highlights users’ concerns about being snooped on continuously.
In its Voice Report for 2019, Microsoft evaluates the usage and users’ concerns about the adoption of smart voice assistants. This data is based on the online responses from around 2,000 consumers from countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and India between March and June 2018. To refine these results and to understand trends related to shopping with the help of virtual assistants, Microsoft conducted another survey with 5,000 other consumers in the US in the month of February 2019.
Among the 5,000 respondents, 72% said that they have used voice assistants to search for information based using spoken queries. More than half of these users said that they have used voice skills or performed actions using smart speakers. Although Amazon claimed 75% of the smart speaker market as of November last year with its Alexa-powered Echo lineup, Microsoft’s report shows that Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant dominate in terms of overall userbase because of their availability on iOS and Android devices apart from smart speakers. Both Siri and Google Assistant occupy 36% market shares each while Alexa was reported to be used by 25% of the people in the survey. Microsoft’s own assistant, Cortana, is used by 19% of the respondents while the remaining 1% use other virtual assistants.
The survey results also concluded that the ownership for smart speakers grew by 22% , with 45% of the respondents confirming that they own smart speakers in 2019, and one-third of these users owning more than one. An additional 30% of the users reacted by saying that they plan to buy a smart speaker within this year. Further, 54% of the smart speaker users use them to automate and control elements in their smart home. The report also highlights Gartner’s prediction about 75% of the households owning smart speakers by 2020.
41% users concerned about privacy
In spite of the rising popularity of smart speakers, 41% of the participant in the survey raised concerns about privacy, with the lack of confidentiality of data and passive listening being their major concerns. More than one-third of the people said that they were not comfortable with their personal data being shared with internet companies. To “mitigate trust issue,” Microsoft suggests that users must be offered some special incentive and rewards.
The survey concludes that users are willing to exchange their non-PII (personally identifiable information) including age and gender for a discount. They may also be willing to share PII (personally identifiable information) such as name, email, home address, phone number if there’s an additional value like an automated buying facility for frequently purchased items or faster shipping options.
Authenticity of information essential
Microsoft says that to gain the trust of the users, virtual assistants must provide authentic and contextual information, instead of just providing search results that help users buy more products, especially when responding to queries on sensitive topics. Smart assistants must provide unbiased and verified results when distributing information besides offering tools that ensure a good balance of utility and productivity.
The report also predicts that 70% of the users believe that voice assistants will make purchases on their behalf over the next five years, and not just ease their experience with online shopping.