Consumers Becoming More Comfortable With Online Tracking

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The growth in the use of mobile technology has made U.S. consumers more comfortable with safeguards as fewer are voicing concern about privacy and security on their wireless devices, according to a new global survey by KPMG.

KPMG found that 48 percent of the U.S. consumers surveyed on the use of technology (e.g. computers, smart phones, mobile applications and the internet) were very concerned about privacy when using a mobile device, which was down from 58 percent when KPMG conducted a similar survey in 2008.
Gary-Matuszak In comparison, 54 percent of consumers said they were very concerned about security in this year's survey, compared to 65 percent in 2008. The U.S. findings on this question were lower than the global findings in the survey that consisted of more than 5,000 consumers in 22 countries. Globally, when using mobile devices, 67 percent said they were very concerned about security and 59 percent indicated they were very concerned about privacy.

"The evolving U.S. consumers' sentiment about privacy and security speaks to their greater familiarity and understanding of the convergence of computers, mobile devices and content, and how they can use the technology and services to their benefit," said Gary Matuszak, Global Chair, Information, Communications and Entertainment.

 "Anywhere you turn, you can see examples of this, whether it's a person checking their email, texting, buying movie tickets, watching a video, listening to music, updating their Facebook status, or checking their bank account balance on their mobile phone."

About half of the consumers said they would be willing to allow their (mobile or desk top) online usage and personal profile information to be tracked, if this would result in lower costs.  This compares to one-third who were willing in 2008.

"As content and service providers continue to search for ways to make advertising more acceptable, U.S. consumers have recognized the value of their personal information and are willing to leverage their power for a better deal," said Tony Castellanos, U.S. Communications and Media sector leader.

U.S. consumers' willingness to provide their personal information translates into a willing ness to accept advertising when accessing online content/services in exchange for lower prices or free content, but there is a difference between advertising on a PC and a mobile device. Half of U.S. consumers would accept ads on their PCs, but 28 percent would accept them on their mobiles.

A challenge for content providers has been turning their online presence into revenue, but some consumers' attitudes are shifting.

In the U.S. about one-quarter said they are now willing to pay for access to frequently used online content whether by mobile device or desk top computer, compared to 43 percent of consumers globally. India and China were the clear global leaders at 65 percent and 63 percent respectively. Least willing to pay are consumers in the Netherlands, at only 6 percent, followed by Ireland with 12 percent, Canada with 15 percent, and Germany with 17 percent.

U.S. consumers are among the least likely to download free movies, music and video games from file-sharing sites, as only 39 percent said they have done so.  In comparison, in the growing markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China, on average, about twice as many consumers in those countries than in the U.S. have downloaded content for free from file-sharing sites,

Chatting and instant messaging, after having a 4-5 percent mobile phone usage rate in 2007 and 2008, and talking over the internet (eg. Skype) now are mobile phone mainstays, with 30 percent and 49 percent of U.S. consumers naming these uses respectively in KPMG's new consumers and convergence survey.

American consumers accessed maps and directions on their mobile phones three times more often than in 2008. Social networking on mobile devices was around 1-2 percent until this year when 10 percent of consumers said they user their mobile phone for social networking.