Kill switches could save consumers $2.6 billion, study says

The adoption of kill switches in mobile phones could save consumers $2.6 billion annually if made mandatory, a move which has strong support by the public.

Those are the findings from new research by Creighton University Heider College of Business professor and consumer advocate William Duckworth. In a survey of 1,200 smartphone owners, Duckworth studied consumer preference for kill switches, consumer habits regarding cell phone insurance and the links between the two. Duckworth's research findings were posted on the university website.

Mandatory mobile phone kill switches have recently been proposed in California, and Duckworth says it's a no-brainer that all states should follow suit.

According to his research findings:

  • 99 percent of smartphone owners believe wireless carriers should give all consumers the option to disable a mobile phone if stolen

  • 93 percent of smartphone owners believe Americans should not be expected to pay extra fees for the ability to disable a stolen phone

  • 83 percent of smartphone owners believe that a kill switch feature would reduce mobile phone theft

To estimate the financial savings that kill switches could produce, Duckworth considered two factors: the cost of replacing stolen phones and the cost of paying for premium cell phone insurance covering stolen phones.

According to the Creighton University article, Americans currently spend approximately $580 million per year to replace stolen phones. They spend another $4.8 billion per year on premium cell phone insurance from their 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," Duckworth wrote. "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."

For more:
- check out the Creighton University article

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