Science and Tech


Smartphone Kill Switch Could Save $2.6B A Year

A Creighton University study suggests a smartphone kill switch could save consumers $2.5 billion each year.
Posted at 2:45 PM, Apr 01, 2014

A new study from Creighton University suggests implementing a smartphone kill switch could save consumers $2.6 billion each year. 

A kill switch would allow consumers to remotely deactivate their mobile devices, rendering them completely useless, and therefore worthless, to thieves. (Via Apple)

Creighton University's William Duckworth found Americans spend almost $580 million a year replacing stolen phones and $4.8 billion on cell phone insurance. By implementing a kill switch, Duckworth says consumers could save the full $580 million on replacing phones and a substantial $2 billion on insurance. 

In fact, the potential curb on crime coupled with the substantial savings for consumers has lawmakers interested. KCBS reports legislation has been proposed.

"There is legislation requiring that every phone sold in the U.S. feature a kill switch. It has been introduced in Congress, but it hasn't been voted on yet." (Via KCBS)

And a lawmaker tells KTVU although some smartphone companies like Apple have implemented theft-deterrent tech, it's an opt-in feature — and that won't fly. 

"We want it to be automatic. You know, Apple has actually come up with a very decent solution, but it's an area where people have to opt in."

A writer for The Huffington Post thinks lawmakers likely have a long battle ahead. While mobile OS creators like Google and Apple can afford to implement the so-called "kill switch," it's clear wireless carriers aren't sold on the idea, as they make major money off premium insurance plans. 

Regardless, a decision will have to be made — the report says mobile device theft has increased in major cities, despite current efforts to quell it.