Privacy: The Next Big Smart-Device Topic? - eMarketer

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Privacy: The Next Big Smart-Device Topic?

Over one-quarter haven't purchased a smart device because of concerns about data security

January 15, 2015

The flying car hasn’t arrived yet, but plenty of smart devices are now on the scene. And according to a December 2014 study conducted by Ipsos MORI for TRUSTe, more than one-third (35%) of US internet users own at least one smart device other than a smartphone.

Smart Device Ownership Among US Internet Users, Dec 2014 (% of respondents)

Respondents were most likely to have a smart TV, owned by one-fifth. In-car navigation systems were the second most popular, though just 12% had one. Ownership rates were low beyond these two devices. For example, just 5% of smartphone owners also had fitness trackers, an early wearable device type.

Privacy concerns abound about the smart-device market. More than one-quarter (27%) of smart-device non-users didn’t have one because of concerns about the security or privacy of data collected, and only 20% thought the benefits of such devices outweighed any privacy concerns about personal info.

Privacy/Security Concerns About Smart Devices According to US Internet Users, Dec 2014 (% of respondents)

What worried internet users most was the collection of their personal information to be used in ways they weren’t aware of. Identity theft and malware infection were also top of mind. Nearly 80% were concerned about smart devices collecting their personal info in general, and a similar percentage were concerned about location tracking behind their back.

Some may think that concerns like this would hold back smart-device adoption, but judging by worries about other devices that are mainstream, these issues may not be a deal breaker. Take smartphones, for example. July 2014 polling by AYTM Market Research found that among US smartphone owners, more than three-quarters were concerned about their smartphone privacy. However, this hasn’t prevented most US consumers from grabbing such devices. eMarketer estimates that 184.2 million people in the US will use a smartphone this year, representing 71.6% of mobile phone users and 57.3% of the population. By 2018, penetration will come in at 82.0% of mobile phone users and 66.9% of the US population, with a total of 220.0 million smartphone users.

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