Digital Assistants Are on the Radar in Germany, but Few Consumers Plan to Use Them - eMarketer
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Digital Assistants Are on the Radar in Germany, but Few Consumers Plan to Use Them

Privacy, safety issues of concern

A June 2017 survey of internet users ages 18 and older in Germany by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found high awareness of digital assistants among respondents. But privacy and safety concerns appear to be holding back adoption.

PwC’s study found Apple’s iPhone-embedded assistant, Siri, was used by 14% of respondents, making it the most used phone-based digital assistant or voice-enabled speaker included in the survey.

Usage of Select Virtual Assistants Among Internet Users in Germany, June 2017 (% of respondents)

Mobile digital assistant rivals Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana, both of which are much more recent introductions than Siri, have nearly caught up to Apple’s system among Germany’s internet users. The survey found that 11% of respondents used Google Assistant, and the same percentage said they used Cortana.

Even more notable is that respondents to PwC’s survey were equally keen on Amazon’s Alexa-powered products. PwC found that less than a year after Echo/Alexa’s launch in Germany, 78% of respondents were familiar with the system—a figure 8 percentage points higher than the share of respondents aware of Siri. Moreover, when user and planned user rates are combined, Amazon’s digital assistant products were nearly as popular as Siri—18% vs. 20%.

Google Home, which hasn’t yet been released in Germany, also showed a 20% intent-to-use rate, so demand for that device is already at a similar level to its future competitors.

While adoption is slowly growing, none the home-focused products currently on the market have become mainstream yet. Amazon and its rivals will need to overcome several concerns about voice-activated speakers for awareness of these devices to translate into mass adoption.

Respondents to PwC’s polling said their biggest concern was sharing their usage data with device operators, followed by opening their digital security to hackers and being spied on via their speaker’s microphone.

Those concerns were reflected in the ways respondents said they would be most likely to use digital assistants. A majority (52%) said they would use such their device simply to play music, while 30% would use it to control other household appliances. But only 10% said they would use a digital assistant for something that posed a potential security risk, like digital banking.

Touting voice-activated devices as controllers for smart-home products is likely to go over well with potential users in Germany. Studies have found smart-home products are an area of keen interest to internet users there. A February 2017 Coqon survey conducted by YouGov, for one, found 85% of respondents ages 18 to 35 in Germany said they would consider buying smart devices for the home.

—Cliff Annicelli

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