The real tragedy of the massive iPhone 6 release on Friday, is aside from being the largest iPhone release yet, it also signals the next wave of the “most stolen” device of the decade. And Apple/ATT/Verizon/T-Mobile could’ve done something about it, but why… They are going to sell millions of these shiny new coveted objects, and then they are going to sell a second iPhone 6 to all the people who lose them to theft. (Here’s my 2012 iPhone 5 theft story.)
A new voluntary commitment from the phone manufacturers and carriers is going to add the “kill” feature to their devices and plans by July of 2015. At least that’s the promise. Today we can wipe or lock our phones. And Apple even has a cool “Find My iPhone” feature that’s been successful at recovering a number of lost phones. But it’s not enough. A “locked” phone can be reactivated after being reset. And there’s simply no reason for that to be the case. That little unique ID code on your phone SHOULD be able to lock it forever. This would render the stolen phone after market null and void.
In Mexico when my week-old iPhone 5 was ripped out of my hands by two thieves on a motorcycle, I was able to use the software to track the phone until they turned it off. And then nothing. After a bit of software manipulation I’m sure my phone was on sale within hours. And somewhere, up in ATT’s bowels, when the phone showed up again for reactivation, there should’ve been an alarm signal and KILL execution. But I’m sure ATT was happy to re-initialize the iPhone in Mexico while they sold me a new on in Texas. (Oh, and buyer beware, if they talk you into the insurance on your phone at the carrier, know that you’re still going to pay a $150 deductible. Nice chump change for your carrier.)
So yesterday’s record release of iPhone 6 units into the world, also signals a new market for stolen iPhone 6s. And it doesn’t have to be this way, but the manufacturers are making a killing selling handsets and selling them again to people who lose them to the black market.
About 1.6 million Americans had their phones stolen last year, according to Consumer Reports. About 40 percent of robberies in major U.S. cities involve mobile devices, the Federal Communications Commission has noted. *Huffpo
The system will only work if everyone is on-board. If the “kill” switch is voluntary, or an opt-in approach, the thefts will continue. But the carriers should be forced to kill stolen phones at the request of the previous owner. “My phone was stolen, disable this phone from reactivation on ATT,” should be all it takes to brick a shiny new iPhone 6. Of course, that’s not the way it’s going to play out. The carriers and manufactures have a lot to lose by killing all those stolen phones. If they implemented a real fix they would dry up that market that sold an additional 1.6 million phones last year. That’s a lot of revenue and a lot of deductibles if you happen to have paid for theft insurance.
As consumers we should demand a better method of killing our stolen phones. Apple’s approach is okay, but not a hard kill. My phone in Mexico was certainly reset to factory new and reinitialized on ATT’s network. And I shelled out the money for a new one on my upgradeable line. Two years later I would’ve hoped the iPhone 6 would’ve been a less attractive target for theft, but it’s only a bigger and more lucrative target.
- Phone Makers and Carriers Agree to Add Anti-Theft Kill Switches to Smartphones – Time
- U.S. Senator To Introduce ‘Kill Switch’ Legislation To Combat Phone Thefts – Huffington Post
- 2012 Losing my iPhone 5 in Mexico – Uber.la
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