Creighton research looks at impact of kill switch for smartphones

Apr 21, 2014

A Creighton researcher says consumers could save millions of dollars every year if a “kill switch” was available for lost or stolen smartphones.

The study looked at the costs associated with carrying premium insurance on a smartphone, and replacing it outright if it’s lost or stolen. Bill Duckworth, who teaches business intelligence and analytics at Creighton, did the study. He found that a way to disable a phone if it’s lost or stolen could save consumers $500 million a year replacing phones, and more than $2 billion on insurance.

Duckworth says it would also reduce cell phone thefts over time.

"If I can call Verizon or AT & T or whoever my provider is and say, my phone was stolen, or I’ve lost my phone, and if they can flip a switch and render it basically inoperable, now a thief can’t sell that, no one’s going to buy that. So the idea is that that would lead to a significant reduction in thefts, because the motivation, the incentive to steal, is basically gone."

Duckworth surveyed 1,200 smartphone owners. 83 percent of those surveyed believe a kill switch would reduce smartphone thefts.