Kill switch could lead to $2.6 billion in savings

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A kill switch that can remotely disable stolen smartphones could save Americans up to US$2.6 billion annually, revealed a study by William Duckworth, Associate Professor of analytics, statistics and data science at Creighton University.

He estimated that American consumers currently spend about US$580 million replacing stolen handsets each year and US$4.8 billion on smartphone insurance.

If a kill switch is put in place, people would stop buying stolen smartphones because they simply would not work. Therefore, most of the US$580 million spent on replacing stolen handsets would be saved.

An even more significant sum could be saved by shifting to cheaper insurance plans that do not cover theft. While some users would not make the switch, Duckworth’s survey of 1,200 handset users in February shows that at least 50 per cent would.

Specifically, 99 per cent of the respondents agreed that telephone companies should permit clients to deactivate their stolen smartphones, while 93 per cent said this service should be free. 83 per cent also believed that a kill switch could lower phone theft.

“I thought a high percentage would say yes, but it was a little surprising and maybe a bigger number than I would have guessed,” said Duckworth

“I view losing a credit card as a similar frame of reference. If it is stolen or lost, I can call the credit card company and get it cancelled.” Given that a smartphone contains lots of personal information, the idea that a client can disable a stolen phone is very reasonable, he added.

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