Spotify has caused quite a stir with its revised terms and conditions for subscribers. For every 90 or so consumers who simply tick the “accept” box without reading the small print, there are at least ten who get out their fine toothcomb.
Small wonder then that some changes to Spotify’s rights to access your personal data were not only spotted, but highlighted, and the company found itself accused of unwarranted invasions of privacy. So much so that the CEO had to issue a public apology.
However, one of the things that was most surprising about the uproar, was that Spotify was really only seeking to do the same sorts of things that the big Internet players such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple – we like to call them GAFA – do already.
But there is another difference – and it highlights what we regard as the “what’s in it for me?” rule of accessing customer data.
For example, we like how easy it is to post pictures to Facebook from our phones and tablets – and we recognize that requires us to open the channel between our photos and the Facebook app. We accept that access because it makes our Facebook experience smoother and more fun.
With Spotify, I like the fact that the service can monitor my music listening habits in order to offer me playlists full of songs it thinks I will like, from some artists I am not aware of, alongside my usual favourites. That feature has led to discover some new bands and artists that are now added to my collection.
However – when Spotify suddenly wanted to access its subscribers’ photos and location, among other things, it found itself on the wrong side of the privacy debate and forced into the climbdown. We think the overwhelming reason for that was that the consumers simply could not see the benefit to themselves.
Gathering data about someone and then providing to third parties does not have to be an invasion of privacy. But unless the consumers can see the benefit to themselves as well, it does not typically strike them as a particularly fair trade-off.
These concerns are certainly high in the minds of the mobile operator community. A survey we are undertaking shows that the majority of operators think that they need to make better use of their customer data to begin selling personalized services; and that they also think they are more than two years behind the GAFA group.
In Europe, there are also concerns that the regulators will stop the operators making the most of the personalized services opportunity. We don’t see it that way – we think the regulators will be fine if the consumers actively give their permission and request the services.
Our experience says consumers will give their permission, if they are happy about the consequences. And as Spotify has helpfully just demonstrated; the thing the consumers need to know to make them happy, is “what’s in it for me?”