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Consumers Prefer Smartphones Over Digital Home Assistants as Smart Home Controllers

While digital home assistants may be grabbing the tech headlines, a new GfK study shows that smartphones are the true masters of the Smart Home universe.

GfK’s 2018 Smart Home report for the US shows that nine in ten (89%) consumers see the smartphone as a controller of home products and services – up from 70% in 2015. The level for digital home assistants (41%) – such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home – is less than half the smartphone proportion. (Note: Digital home assistants were not included in the 2015 survey.)

To learn more about GfK’s new Smart Home report, go to this link.

The smartphone also ranks high when it comes to use in the home. More than eight in ten (83%) consumers say they use their smartphones at home, compared to 75% for laptops, 54% for PCs, and 34% for game consoles.

“Consumers – especially Millennials and Gen Z – rely on their smartphones for 24/7 access to social connections, news, and much more,” said Tom Neri, Commercial Director of Tech & Durables at GfK. “So it is no surprise that people also see smartphones as Smart Home hubs – especially for the many appliances that allow controlling and viewing the home at a distance.”

Still, roughly half (51%) of DHA users say these devices are “extremely integrated” into their day-to-day lives – even though three-quarters of owners bought their digital assistants less than a year ago. At a time when two-thirds (68%) of consumers say they want to connect and service their Smart Home products themselves, the seamless integration and connection could be a plus for DHAs.

But GfK’s study reveals that worries about personal privacy represent a major obstacle to adoption for digital home assistants (DHAs), with 35% of consumers citing this concern. For most other Smart Home categories measured, the top barrier to purchase was perceived cost; the only other product type where privacy was the #1 obstacle was Smart Health.

“While consumers have some concerns over smartphone privacy and security – such as being tracked via Location Services – there is clearly greater lingering worry about the voice listening capabilities of DHAs,” Neri said. “This may be one reason why our study shows digital home assistants scoring below smart coffee makers and light bulbs in owner satisfaction.”

In addition to device adoption and consumer expectations, the new GfK Smart Home report also covers

  • Consumer views of specific Smart Home brands
  • Understanding of the Smart Home concept
  • Potential barriers to further adoption
  • Special perspectives on Leading Edge Consumers (LECs)
  • Ways to leverage the Smart Home opportunity

GfK’s findings are based on 1,000 online interviews with US consumers; the sample has been balanced by age, gender, and region. Surveys were completed on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs.

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