U.S. millennials interested in AI, OK with carriers sharing data: study

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Fresh data from CSG International indicates U.S. mobile users are keen to use artificial intelligence on their phones.

U.S. millennials are very interested in using artificial intelligence on their phones to help them with daily tasks, according to a new study from CSG International. And most of them aren’t all that concerned about their carriers sharing their mobile data if they get something in return.

A Colorado-based company that provides Business Support Systems software and services primarily to telecoms, CSG surveyed more than 200 18- to 35-year-old mobile subscribers in the U.S. as part of a larger poll around the world. When asked to name the feature that would most strongly influence a millennial to spend more money on their mobile service in five years, 64% of Americans chose “a mobile service that acts as a personal assistant that can set meetings, (and) post phone content to social media” as the top driver of additional spending.

“American respondents in the 26-35 age range were significantly more likely than those in other countries to believe millennials will spend more for a mobile service that acts as a personal assistant,” CSG reported.

Those results come as carriers, handset vendors and software developers increasingly look to AI to differentiate their wares. Samsung is the latest player to enter the space in a big way, last month unveiling Bixby, its response to AI-powered personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. The offering will debut with the new Galaxy S8 and will eventually be supported by Samsung’s entire line of “appliances,” Senior Vice President InJong Rhee wrote on the company’s blog.

In fact, some analysts have pegged AI as the next vital software platform in mobile, replacing operating systems now that Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS have cornered that market. “A decade from now, we might not be talking about Android or iOS, but rather Google Assistant or Siri, or perhaps Alexa, Bixby or Cortana,” CCS Insight said earlier this year. “The current two-horse race is likely to be disrupted by a different type of race, rather than a different type of horse.”

And young U.S. mobile subscribers “were significantly more likely to feel that millennials will share their mobile data in exchange for entertainment recommendations and customized mobile service packages,” CSG found. Eighty-six percent of U.S. respondents said U.S. millennials would be very or somewhat likely to allow their carrier to make entertainment recommendations based on content they’ve previously consumed, and 85% said that group would be very or somewhat likely to allow their carrier to use their location to “provide small conveniences” like checking in for flights.

On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a repeal of privacy rules the FCC had put in place during the Obama administration after Republicans in both houses passed the measure last week. The move has outraged some consumer-advocacy groups, but CSG’s data indicates U.S. carriers looking to leverage their customers’ data may find a willing audience among millennials.