Researcher Claims a Smartphone Kill Switch Could Save Consumers $2.6 Billion Annually

Paul Lilly

What's holding smartphone makers back from implementing a kill switch?

A new research report suggests that if smartphone makers implemented a technology into handsets to remotely disable them when stolen, it could potentially save consumers $2.6 billion per year. For that number to be accurate, a kill switch would need to be mandatory in mobile devices. It takes into the account the cost of replacing a stolen smartphone as well as how much is spent on smartphone insurance.

Creighton University Heider College of Business professor and consumer advocate William Duckworth, Ph.D., surveyed 1,200 smartphone owners and found that not only would mobile phone owners welcome a kill switch feature, they've come to expect it. It's easy to see why when breaking down the numbers.

Based on his research, Americans spend about $580 million per year replacing stolen smartphones, and another $4.8 billion per year paying for premium cell phone insurance from wireless carriers.

"My research suggests that at least half of smartphone owners would in fact reduce their insurance coverage if the kill switch reduced the prevalence of cell phone theft," said Duckworth . "Overall, it seems clear that Americans want the kill switch and that an industry-wide implementation of the technology could significantly improve public safety and save consumers billions of dollars a year."

Unfortunately for consumes in favor of such a thing, the idea of a kill switch isn't yet embraced by the CTIA, a lobbying group that represents the telecom industry. Instead, the CTIA wants to build a database that blocks stolen phones from being reactivated by new subscribers, though such an idea only has limited international reach.

Image Credit: Flickr (West Midlands Police)

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