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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 16-22

Do people intend to purchase using their smartphone apps? The effect of the privacy concerns among Malaysian buyers


Faculty of Business, Economics and Accountancy, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Jalan UMS, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Date of Submission23-Feb-2016
Date of Acceptance26-Apr-2016
Date of Web Publication7-Oct-2016

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Zakariya Belkhamza
Faculty of Business, Economics and Accountancy, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Jalan UMS, 88400 Kota Kinabalu
Malaysia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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  Abstract 

Introduction: The rise of e commerce and m commerce has brought to intention the privacy concern among mobile buyers, and studies showed that it is an important factor of attitude and intention to buy products or services through smartphones.
Objective: The objective of this paper is to investigate the issue of privacy concerns on the purchasing intention among the Malaysian buyers. This was performed by investigating the relationship between the privacy concerns and the intention to purchase using smartphone apps.
Methodology: This study gathered data from individual consumers aged between 20 and 40 years old since these consumers have the capability to acquire not just free apps but also paid apps along with better experience in using smartphones. Respondents must also have experienced purchasing and installing smartphone apps through app stores or repositories such as Google Play Store and Apple Store. The research uses nonprobability convenience sampling and snowball sampling as it has been widely used by researchers and academicians in the past with regard to investigating consumer behaviors on e commerce related issues
Results: The paper provides significant insights on the issue of privacy concern in the usage of smartphone apps stores which can help the developers such as Google and Apple to improve their apps stores to provide better protection for the users' privacy and security in Malaysia.

Keywords: Attitude toward purchase, intention to purchase, m-commerce, privacy concerns, security, smartphone apps


How to cite this article:
Belkhamza Z. Do people intend to purchase using their smartphone apps? The effect of the privacy concerns among Malaysian buyers. Imam J Appl Sci 2016;1:16-22

How to cite this URL:
Belkhamza Z. Do people intend to purchase using their smartphone apps? The effect of the privacy concerns among Malaysian buyers. Imam J Appl Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2017 Dec 11];1:16-22. Available from: http://www.e-ijas.org/text.asp?2016/1/1/16/191721


  Introduction Top


As consumers embrace the rise of the Internet era, the online privacy concern remains a top priority for every smartphone user and many companies find it difficult to ensure the privacy and security on their apps for their users to use and engage in a successful transaction, especially where cybercrimes are fast increasing. Privacy concern naturally becomes an important issue as e-commerce makes it ascent into an important business aspect of most organizations. This is due to the fact that marketers are collecting more and more information on customers who are buying online to study not only their characteristics but also their purchase preferences and behaviors.

However, there still exists a significant gap in research regarding the influence of privacy concern on consumers' intention to purchase smartphone apps, especially when including other influential factors that affect the decision to purchase apps such as the stimulus of social influences and one's own perceived ability to perform the behavior. The objective of this paper is to investigate the issue of the privacy concern on the purchasing intention. More precisely, the paper attempts to give further insights on the issue of privacy concern in the usage of smartphone apps stores which can help the developers such as Google and Apple to improve their apps stores to provide better protection for the users' privacy and security in Malaysia. Moreover, the paper also aims to provide a better understanding on the role of privacy concern and perception toward the purchase or usage behavior among Malaysian smartphone users. By doing so, it can provide better information and guidelines for agencies such as Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to create more comprehensive awareness campaign among Malaysians on the importance of maintaining their privacy and cautiousness when purchasing or downloading apps from smartphone app stores.


  Literature Review Top


Privacy concern is defined as the concern of users on the collection, usage, and manipulation of personal information by firms or entities due to the fear of loss or threat or breach of privacy. On this regard, considerable attention has been paid to the issue of privacy concern and security on smartphones.[1],[2],[3] It was found that many users who download applications (apps) from app stores such as Google Play and Apple's App Store have low concern on privacy as they tend to disregard the security alerts when they install apps from these app stores, with most of them unable to understand the risks and privacy issues associated with that installation.[4],[2] They suggested that users are more concerned about their privacy on their computers compared to their smartphones. They further concluded that users believed that smartphones and personal computers are different.

Gomez–Martin [5] stated that smartphone users are exposed by considerable vulnerabilities and exposures through the traditional hacking, malwares, and spywares, while also being vulnerable to collection and dissemination of personal information by smartphone apps. Google has recently led to this issue of privacy concern on smartphone apps as it was reported that the company was providing Australian developers with customer's personal information which included E-mail addresses.[6] On the other hand, iPhone users are also exposed to privacy breach threats as the smartphone's Unique Device Identifier of the device can reveal user's behavioral patterns and information if exploited based on apps usage or the device itself.[7] According to a recent study conducted by Pew Internet Project,[8] more than half of the smartphone users decided to uninstall apps from their smartphones due to the concern of personal information with 54% deciding to forego apps installation, while 30% of the users uninstalled apps when privacy became more of a concern. Even more worrying was the report made by Hewlett–Packard after it was found out that nine out of ten smartphone apps are vulnerable to privacy issues.[8]


  Privacy Concerns in Malaysia Top


In Malaysia, it was reported in 2012 that 86.3% of Malaysians have at least a handphone with 26% of them are using smartphones. The number of smartphone users showed a drastic increase as compared to 2011 and 2012, where the numbers of users for those years were only 14% and 12%, respectively. Moreover, 64.6% of Malaysian users intend to change their handphones to smartphones in the near future. Of the current smartphone users, 50.9% of them have installed 10–30 apps in their smartphones.[9] These numbers should be an alarming as MCMC stated that most Malaysian smartphone users opt for “jailbreak” smartphones that allow them to download apps that have not been approved by app stores, and these apps may impose security and data integrity risks. The increasing number of smartphone users will only lead to an increase in privacy risks.[1]

Until today, little research has been conducted to address the issue of privacy concern on smartphone apps store purchase intention among Malaysian users. While there have been some studies on the issue of smartphone privacy in the context of other countries, mainly Western, the topic of apps purchase intention has yet to be further discussed.[10]


  Theoretical Background Top


In his research, Mylonas et al.[2] was concerned on users' security awareness when downloading apps from the app store such as enabling security measures in their smartphones rather than their intention and attitude before purchasing apps, while a research by Egelman et al.[11] focused on the willingness of consumers to pay for premium paid apps in exchange for the ability to reduce personal information given to app stores. Furthermore, Kelley et al.[12] only investigated the role of privacy on how consumers choose which apps to be installed on their smartphones with the least personal information requests. Kim et al.[13] studied the determining factor in users smartphone apps purchase using exploratory study without the use of consumer behavior-based theoretical model.

While these studies are considered a positive step toward studying this trend, most previous studies have lacked the attempt and initiative to investigate and examine the role of privacy concern on smartphone apps purchase intention by integrating a theoretical predictive consumer behavior framework. Several studies have indeed used these theoretical models on mobile devices-related topics; however, they have not explicitly studied the effect of privacy concern on smartphone apps purchase intention.[14],[15] Therefore, it is hoped that this paper will shed light on this trend and expand the research in this area. The hypotheses investigated in this paper are highlighted in [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Research framework

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  Research Method Top


Privacy concern represents the factor affecting the smartphone apps purchase intention. The approach employed for this paper is hypothesis testing. The main drive of this is to explore the impact of privacy concern through attitude toward the smartphone apps purchase intention in the context of Malaysian users. The mediating role of attitude toward smartphone apps is also meant for investigating the effect of privacy concern on smartphone apps purchase intention. An individually administered questionnaire was used for data collection.

The most recent survey by MCMC has revealed that most Malaysians are learning more about smartphones. Given the nature of most consumers preferring free apps rather than paid ones according to Euromonitor International,[16] this indicates that privacy concern in smartphones is already an issue which will further escalate as more consumers use smartphones.

The unit of analysis for this research is individual consumers where the age range of respondents is between 20 and 40 years old since these consumers have the capability to acquire not just free apps but also paid apps along with better experience in using smartphones. They also must have experienced purchasing and installing smartphone apps through app stores or repositories such as Google Play Store and Apple Store. As for the sampling approach, the research uses nonprobability convenience sampling and snowball sampling as it has been widely used by researchers and academicians in the past with regard to investigating consumer behaviors on e-commerce-related issues.[14],[17]

MCMC has reported that 26% of Malaysians are using smartphones with half of them installing 10–30 apps in their smartphones. Based on the past literature, varied numbers of respondents have been used for consumer behavior-related studies.


  Results Top


Demographical profile

The analysis of the respondents' demographics revealed that 54.7% of the respondents are male, while 45.3% are female. This indicates an adequate balance of the two genders. [Table 1] shows the demographical profile of the respondents.
Table 1: Demographical profile of respondents

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Smartphone usage

This section provides statistical information on the smartphone usage of respondents who have participated in the study. The results of smartphone usage are illustrated in [Table 2]. The results indicate that the highest percentage of chosen app store is Google Play Store with 71.3% followed by the Apple Store with 20.0%. Google Play Store indicates that respondents use Android-based smartphones whereas Apple Store represents Apple's iPhone-based smartphones. The higher usage of Android-based smartphones among Malaysian coincides with MCMC findings of the Malaysia 2013 headphones survey where the majority of Malaysian use Android-based phone at 79.2%. The other 8.7% consists of BlackBerry World (Symbian-based), Window Stores (Windows Phone-based), and others.
Table 2: Smartphones usage of respondents

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Reliability analysis

The Cronbach's alpha values for each of the four dimensions of privacy concern construct are tabulated in [Table 3] along with other variables of the attitude toward smartphone purchase and smartphone apps purchase intention. It can be seen that all values are above the recommended value 0.8 which show good reliability consistency.[18]
Table 3: Reliability analysis

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Descriptive analysis

The purpose of the descriptive analysis is to measure the mean and standard deviation for all the variables of the study. All items of variables in the study were measured using a five-point Likert scale that ranges from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Based on the scale, these mean scores interpretation can be made: mean scores lower than 2 indicate low responses, mean scores from 2 to 4 show moderate responses, while mean scores higher than 4 represent high responses.

The results compiled in [Table 4] revealed that three variables have moderate mean scores ranging from the lowest to the highest, respectively: smartphone apps purchase intention (2.99), attitude toward smartphone apps purchase (3.15), and errors (3.84). The rest of the variable showed high responses based on the mean scores that are higher than 4 which are collection (4.11), improper access (4.40), and unauthorized secondary use (4.47).
Table 4: Means and standard deviations

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Multiple regression analysis

Multiple regression analysis was used to identify the direct relationship between the dimensions of privacy concern with the attitude toward smartphone apps purchase, as well as to examine the direct relationship between the dimensions of privacy concern and attitude toward smartphone apps purchase with smartphone apps purchase intention.

The relationship between dimensions of privacy concern (collection, unauthorized secondary use, improper access, and errors) and attitude toward smartphone apps purchase

The first hypothesis attempts to examine whether there is a significant relationship between privacy concern dimensions and the attitude toward smartphone apps purchase. The result in [Table 5] indicates that 5.0% of variances in attitude toward smartphone apps purchase can be explained by privacy concern (R 2 = 0.05, P < 0.01). Multicollinearity does not exist as the tolerance level, and variance inflation factor (VIF) were higher than 0.1 and below 10, respectively. The significance value in ANOVA that test null hypothesis of multiple regressions is 0.11 which shows that the study does not reach statistical significance.
Table 5: Regression analysis of privacy concern (collection, improper access, and unauthorized secondary use errors) and attitude toward smartphone apps purchase

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Of the four dimensions of privacy concern, only the improper access dimension is found to have a negative influence on the attitude of respondents (β = −0.252, P < 0.05). The improper access dimension has the largest unique contribution to explaining attitudes toward smartphone apps purchase as the part correlation value of −0.186 of the dimension suggests that the dimension contributed to 3.4% of variance in attitude. The rest of the dimensions (collection, unauthorized secondary use, and errors) are not significant at the level below 0.5. Therefore, this hypothesis is partially supported.

The relationship between dimensions of privacy concern (collection, unauthorized secondary use, improper access, and errors) and smartphone apps purchase intention

The second hypothesis attempts to examine whether there is a significant relationship between privacy concern dimensions and smartphone apps purchase intention. The result in [Table 6] indicates that 6.0% of variances in smartphone apps purchase intention can be explained by privacy concern (R 2 = 0.06, P < 0.01). Multicollinearity does not exist as the tolerance level, and VIF was higher than 0.1 and below 10, respectively. The significance value in ANOVA that test null hypothesis of multiple regressions is 0.07 which shows no statistical significance.
Table 6: Regression analysis of privacy concern (collection, improper access, and unauthorized secondary use errors) and smartphone apps purchase intention

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Only the errors dimension is found to have a positive influence on the intention of respondents (β = 0.244, P < 0.01). The error dimension has the largest unique contribution to explaining smartphone apps purchase intention as the part correlation value of 0.218 of the dimension suggests that the dimension contributed to 4.7% of the variance in intention. The rest of the dimensions (collection, unauthorized secondary use, and errors) are not significant at a level below 0.5. Therefore, this hypothesis is partially supported.

Mediation effect analysis

To test the mediating role of attitude toward smartphone apps purchase on the relationship between privacy concern dimensions and smartphone apps purchase intention, a mediation analysis process suggested by Preacher et al.[19] is employed within this study. The method proposed by the authors attempt to look at the values of the lower level confidence interval (LLCI) and upper level confidence interval (ULCI) to establish mediation effect of a variable. If there is no zero in between of the two values, mediation effect is established. The indirect effects of all four dimensions of privacy concern will be included in the mediation analysis.

Mediating effect of attitude toward smartphone purchase on the relationship between dimensions of privacy concern and purchase intention

This relationship postulates that attitude toward smartphone purchase would mediate the relationship between the dimensions of privacy (collection, improper access, unauthorized secondary use, and errors) and the intention to purchase apps. [Table 7] summarizes the values of LLCI and ULCI for all four dimensions of privacy when the attitude is given the role of the mediating variable.
Table 7: Mediating effect of attitude toward smartphone apps purchase on the relationship between dimensions of privacy concern and purchase intention

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It can be seen that only the improper access dimension of privacy concern that does not have a zero in between the value of both LLCI (−0.0.444) and ULCI (−0.406) which shows that attitude does mediate the effect of this dimension on smartphone apps purchase intention. For the rest of dimensions, there are zeroes in between their values which prove that there is no mediation effect of attitude.


  Discussion and Analysis Top


The main aim of this paper was to examine and identify the smartphone apps purchase intention among the smartphone users in Malaysia. There is a direct significant positive relationship between the attitude toward smartphone apps purchase and privacy concern on smartphone apps purchase intention. However, the privacy concern's positive relationship with the intention only accounts for the errors dimension while the rest are not significant.

The improper access dimension of privacy concern has a significant negative relationship with the attitude toward smartphone apps purchase. Furthermore, the attitude variable is found to only mediate the relationship between the improper access dimension of privacy concern and purchase intention.

In general, certain hypotheses are supported by past literature and studies, while other hypotheses were not consistent with previous findings. The supported findings should be included in future researches that are geared toward exploring the smartphone apps privacy sphere. The intention to purchase smartphone apps is essential as it gives an indication to the privacy concern level of users to a certain degree. Privacy concern is not a new phenomenon as it has been extensively researched in the literature. Nevertheless, the privacy concern on smartphone apps is still relatively new as smartphone apps were only introduced in 2007, while the e-commerce view on privacy concern has been around for two decades.


  Managerial Implications and Recommendations Top


The paper provides further insights into the knowledge concerning smartphone apps privacy concern from the consumers' intention and attitude in Malaysia. This results in the recommendations for improvement to government authorities, smartphone app stores, and app developers.

First, this study can assist the responsible government agencies and ministries in smartphone users' privacy security, concerns, and consumer-related fields such as The MCMC. Privacy awareness campaigns should be more prevalent in the Malaysian context as it is confirmed that the privacy concern in Asian countries such as Malaysia is low and worrying. Thus, this paper suggests that some guidelines and recommendations should be implemented to increase privacy awareness where these suggestions may include organizations maintaining solid security policies, assessing security awareness in regular periods, develop easy to access, understand information security learning sessions, and establishing long-term implementation to get users involved in security training. These recommendations, in hindsight, can also be applied to the general public.

As for the study's implication on the role of smartphone app stores administrators such as Google Play Store and Apple Store, as well as smartphone app developers, it was found out that the current policies and standards set forth by these parties with accountability may not be sufficient in ensuring safe and reliable information practices. It is recommended that certain actions to be considered by them for better data protection and integrity; these actions and guidelines may include:

  • Smartphone apps developers reveal to users how personal information is used, and what type of information and data of users will be used by app stores and app developers for marketing and safekeeping purposes
  • Privacy permission to be revealed during apps purchase decision making to inform smartphone users that certain personal information can be used by the particular app stores and developers for legal business practices that follow the Fair Trade Commission policies and regulations
  • App stores should improve apps choice architecture to include more privacy options for smartphone users such as the type of additional personal information that users would be willing to share with the app developers and app stores aside from the compulsory information needed for app purchasing
  • App stores and developers should include privacy warning designs in apps to inform smartphone users on the possible consequences or ramifications of purchasing apps that may be accessed by irresponsible individuals for personal gains
  • App stores and developers need to be more ethical in their process of storing and disseminating smartphone users' personal information to other thirds parties that may gain benefits from these data collection practices. They could incorporate better ethical codes of conduct in their organizations to encourage safe and fair information trade practices so that smartphone users will not be manipulated and exploited.


The government may also intervene or act by asking app stores and developers to stop collecting smartphone users' personal information, investing in cybercrime and infrastructure, and creating standard and guidelines for data collection in smartphone devices. Important government agencies such as the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia may collaborate with foreign agencies to establish an intricate network of cooperation in sharing information and practices that can enhance security measures for the smartphone realm.


  Future Research Top


Future studies that intend to adopt this studies relationship may want to consider using other privacy constructs, instead of the privacy concern dimensions construct as proposed by Smith.[7] Preibusch [20] recommended other privacy measurement constructs guidelines such as developing new scales based on Braunstein et al.[21] construct of privacy, modernized version of Smith's concern for information privacy by Malhotra et al.[22] or the broader measurement of privacy by Earp et al.[23]

Other factors that may affect intention such as trust can also be considered. Using the privacy concern, demographic or smartphone usage as a moderator between the relationship of other independent variables and intention could be explored.[7] For example, Liu et al.[24] found support for the use of the trust construct as a mediator between privacy and intention. As for the possible role of a privacy concern as a moderator, the variable has been done so by Angst and Agarwal [25] where privacy concern moderated the relationship between attitude changes. Finally, the price has been shown to be an indicator for users' intention to purchase apps by Egelman et al.,[11] so it can be considered in future studies.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

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    Figures

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7]



 

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