Mobile phone 'kill switch' could save consumers $2.5 billion per year, study finds

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,288   +132
Staff member
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...

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Posts: 5,710   +5,601
It is hard to imagine a phone thief that's proficient enough to use parts from a modern phone, and yet not proficient enough to find himself a good job or to go legal otherwise... :)

What's wrong with these people???!!! :) :) :)


Posts: 1,423   +347
It is hard to imagine a phone thief that's proficient enough to use parts from a modern phone, and yet not proficient enough to find himself a good job or to go legal otherwise... :)

What's wrong with these people???!!! :) :) :)

Probably because they can earn more per hour stealing then working 42hrs a week.


Posts: 3,214   +1,467
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.

Umm... except that those insurance policies also cover loss, damage, and equipment failure (after the first year for the latter).

The phone companies don't make that entire $2.5 billion... that's just what people spend. Every time a phone is stolen they have to provide the victim with a $600 phone minus the $150 deductible. That means they're out $450 worth of phone for each stolen premium phone. Cheaper phones have lower deductibles, but they'd still have to pay.

Saying the carriers are 'making' $2.5 billion by selling insurance completely ignores the other half, which is paying out the claims of people who have lost, dropped, broken OR had their phone stolen. We don't really know what the math is like here because deep down in the Huffington Post story (which was linked in the Engadget story, which was linked above) we see the line
[Duckworth says he did not have access to insurance company data.]

Sure, people may buy cheaper insurance plans if there's less worry of theft, but that's assuming the carriers won't change their plans and/or pricing to make up for it. The carriers could come out tomorrow and make every new insurance plan $1 more per month.


Posts: 1,697   +613
Considering on how difficult it is to take apart some of these phones without damaging anything, I can't see anyone except those with slow, steady hands and enough patience to attempt to salvage parts from the more popular modern phones.

Also, Milwaukee is right, almost every insurance plan that carriers sell are comprehensive plans that on top of theft, also protects against varying degrees of "accidental" damage as well as if they are lost, so while the idea of kill switching to lost/stolen phones is more or less a good one, the economics of the matter in the article does not entirely add up.


Posts: 1,580   +633
Translation: Mobile phone 'kill switch' could cost phone makers and retailers $2.5 billion per year in unnecessary replacement sales, study finds.

They are going to fight this thing tooth and nail.


Posts: 188   +141
Hmmz, could be a good idea, but couldn't it be used to render our phones useless in case someone doesn't want us to communicate? ie Governments, criminal groups, hackers,...


Posts: 67   +9
This is a bad idea. The government will use that power to further control people. Imagine them wirelessly destroying peoples phones at a protest.


Great until, someone hacks the wireless carriers and oh look a big kill switch button that does every phone in 1 hit. Boom and nuked.

I mean hackers find their way into everything these days, so a what if scenario ? How to remedy a hack n boom ?


Posts: 2,768   +2,085
People still don't get it.
Oh, put traffic cameras the name of "safety".
Red light cameras...for safety.
Install a phone kill switch...for safety.
Nope, just more of a way to shut things down when everything blows up.
You think governments would love to send a signal out, which would silence
every phone in every part of the world? You bet they would!
I agree, it is a bad idea. I'm sorry; I do not want any person, business, government entity, or service provider to have remote access to my phone. There are already remote wipe services available which individuals can install on their device in the event of theft so your information can stay secure. And guess what?? They are all available without the need for government intervention! Amazing! I think these people need to learn how to educate the public on how to stay safe and keep data secure in this digital era in lieu of passing laws which ultimately invade everybody's privacy.

Ok. I will get off my soap box now. ;)