Law enforcement officials, lawmakers and consumers alike have championed the idea of a mobile phone kill switch ever since the Secure Our Smartphones initiative launched nearly a year ago. The plan is simple: get wireless carriers and handset manufacturers on board with the idea of a kill switch that would render stolen phones useless.
Such a feature would reduce cell phone theft and seemingly benefit everyone involved – everyone, that is, except wireless carriers. Why? It’s simple. They’d lose a ton of money they currently make from selling insurance plans to cover stolen phones. But just how much money are we talking about?
Creighton University professor William Duckworth recently conducted a study which indicated consumers could collectively save up to $2.5 billion per year if kill switches were implemented. Broken down further, that’s $500 million saved in buying replacement handsets and a whopping $2 billion on insurance that covers theft.
Yeah, now we see exactly why wireless carriers aren’t so hip to the kill switch idea.
Of course, not everyone agrees with the findings. Phone insurance company Asurion estimates that roughly 60 percent of missing phones are actually lost, not stolen. What’s more, criminals may still target phones for spare parts alone.
Either way, mobile phone theft accounts for 30 to 40 percent of all robberies in major cities according to the FCC. Anything that could be done to reduce that number would be welcomed in my book.