Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey dials-up some serious phone conversations

As we discuss the 2018 Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey with industry leaders, three hot topics are emerging: the limiting of screen time; voice; and security.

Putting the world in the palm of your hand has been mankind’s ultimate dream.

Now it’s there what do we do with it?

Too much screen time?

For those who simply can’t look away and can’t turn off, it really is becoming something of a nightmare at times, and the temptations in the form of more entertainment, more workplace connectivity and more apps are increasing exponentially.

Thirty-nine percent of Australians (with similar percentages reported in the US and UK) are concerned about their levels of phone use, in China that figure is as high as 59%. Delving further into the survey data, Australians who use their phones too much feel that the top 3 effects of doing so are: feeling like they need to check their phone all the time; feeling distracted from a task; and not going to bed at the intended time.

Smartphone manufacturers are now actively helping customers address these issues. Apple’s ‘Screen Time’ application, for instance, allows iPhone device users (42% of Australian Smartphone users) to limit general screen access at certain times, or to restrict individual applications at certain times. All of which begins to shine some light on just how often we are ‘heads down’ on our device.

There are however two sides to the story. As responsible as such measures may sound for mobile consumers, on the other side of the equation are those businesses that participate in the smartphone ecosystem. Limiting screen time is likely to have a detrimental effect on the business model of those application providers competing for our attention, or on those operators who compete for our increasing data usage.

The top 3 applications used more than once a day by Australian media consumers are News, Short video and Gaming applications. These are the first application providers to  feel the ‘screen time pinch’ but we would also expect less essential applications, like dating apps and gambling apps, to experience some reduction.

So…is all of this the ‘lock out law’ debate coming to the palms of our hands? The nanny state reaching new levels, or is it a serious question about the world we want to live in?

Whether you are a device manufacturer, app developer, operator, regulator or industry body, there is little question that the screen time debate is something you will need to address in your strategy.

Hey…The Rise of Voice

One solution could be the rise in voice as an interface – allowing for more ‘eyes up, hands-free’ living. Forty-two per cent of survey respondents are aware they have voice assistants on their smartphone. Of this group, 54% are using their voice assistants on a weekly basis. While fewer Australians have voice assisted speakers (only 9%), this audience is much more active in their use, with 47% having used the device in the last day and 20% in the last week.

Given the rate of take up identified in both the Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey and the Media Consumer Survey this year, there are going to be plenty of home speakers in Christmas Stockings over the next couple of weeks and the race is on between digital giants Apple, Google and Amazon to encourage us to start talking to them.

Is Voice really going to take off? Or will it be that seldom used technology trinket in the corner like Google glasses, virtual reality headsets and the home ‘hub’?

Our Mobile Consumer Survey identified a lag in the adoption of smart technology in our homes.  With the exception of smart TVs and voice-assisted speakers, there has been zero year on year growth in the take up of smart appliances.   Voice may well be the key to addressing some of this.

The challenge for Voice proponents, and there are big players in the AI field at work here, is to quickly move voice from a one dimensional inquiry about the weather or playing the next song, to something that is actually useful, something that talks back, filters the question and fulfils a need.

As it does, though, our existing concerns about who is listening and who is watching our every movement are likely to heighten even further.

Privacy and Data Security Concerns

This year’s Mobile Consumer Survey raised some serious questions about data security with 84% of respondents concerned about how their personal data is used, shared, and stored by companies they interact with online.  Again these were reflected internationally and were echoed in the Deloitte Media Consumer Survey – the Australian cut.

People are already worried about their data, yet they continue to share it to access more and more services – something we term the dichotomy of trust. Testing this trust even further will be the implications of open data, which on one hand gives consumers more rights and opportunities, but which on the other takes sharing to a new level.

In a world where we are increasingly uncomfortable about security, one may well ask if we have reached the point where we need a frank and open discussion about data behaviour. What are we sharing, why are we sharing and how do we choose who to share it with?

A little like ‘that talk’ we need to have with teenagers, this is the discussion that industry, governments and consumers have been putting off for too long and there is plenty of evidence to suggest we are at the time where we shouldn’t put it off any longer.

This article features on Deloitte Australia’s Blog
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