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Leonid Bershidsky

Americans Like Smart Speakers, But Europeans Are Wary

Privacy concerns may outweigh the convenience they bring, at least for now.

Your walls have ears.

Your walls have ears.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The Facebook privacy scandal and Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation appear to have increased people’s interest in online privacy. Whether they will act on it, however, is a different matter.

To get an answer to that question, one could watch Facebook’s and Google’s revenue or Facebook’s user numbers. They look healthy so far, but then it’s difficult for people to give up entrenched habits even if they’re more worried about privacy than before Cambridge Analytica and the GDPR. A better gauge would be to track the sales of what promises to be the year’s hottest gadget — the smart speaker, first created by Amazon as the Echo but now offered by a number of other companies, including Google, Apple, Alibaba and Xiaomi.