Security, Privacy Concerns Cloud Smart Speaker Ubiquity

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The Smart Audio Report‘s Spring 2019 survey, conducted by Edison Research in partnership with NPR, is now out, and radio industry C-Suiters will no doubt want the latest tidbits and insights into the growth of a device many have heralded for “bringing back” radio listening to the home.


What’s the biggest takeaway being shared by NPR and Edison? Security and privacy are concerns among smart speaker users and those who cite those concerns for not purchasing a device.

Seven-in-ten smart speaker owners use their device daily despite common concerns around security and privacy, while those same factors are leading reasons non-owners have not acquired a device.


The Smart Audio Report Spring 2019, part of the industry’s longest-running public research series about smart speaker consumer behavior in the U.S., is available now at npr.org/smartaudio.


“We are starting to see more pragmatic usage of these devices,” said Edison Research SVP Tom Webster. “The longer people have these devices, the less experimentation they do with them — but the more ingrained into everyday life these devices become.”

The study delves into the habits of the more than 53 million smart speaker owners aged 18 and older in the U.S.

Edison and NPR found:

  • 69% of smart speaker owners use their device daily, and households with children are even more likely to use them daily
  • Smart speaker owners who have owned the device for 2+ years use an average seven skills per week, compared to an average 12 skills per week among those who have owned the device for less than three  months
  • 66% of those who own a smart speaker with a screen say the screen has made it easier to discover new content. The same number say having a screen makes the smart speaker “easier to use”

“We continue to see those that have voice assistant devices love them, using them every day to get the news, listen to podcasts, live stream radio stations and more,” said NPR Vice President/New Platform Partnerships Joel Sucherman. “The latest data suggest we’ve moved into a maturation phase in this space, in which earning and maintaining the trust of potential smart speaker buyers, while also demonstrating new functionality, may be a key to continuing dynamic growth,”

While almost half of smart speaker owners are planning to acquire another device, the Report also finds a slowing interest among non-owners in acquiring their first smart speaker.

Among people who do not own a smart speaker and are interested in acquiring one, the top two reasons they have not are:

  • 63% are concerned that hackers could use a smart speaker to gain access to their home or personal information
  • 55% are bothered that smart speakers are always listening

Security remains a concern around these devices among current users as well. Almost 60% of smart speaker owners worry about hackers, and more than half indicated it bothers them that their smart speaker is always listening.

The Smart Audio Report Spring 2019 is based upon a national online survey of 1,641 Americans ages 18+, 812 who indicated that they owned at least one Smart Speaker and 829 who indicated they did not own a smart speaker. The device owner data was weighted to nationally representative figures on Smart Speaker users from The Infinite Dial 2019 from Edison Research and Triton Digital.

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