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Research Shows Kill Switch in Mobile Phones Could Save Consumers Billions Annually

New research released today from Creighton University Heider College of Business professor and consumer advocate William Duckworth, Ph.D., shows consumers overwhelmingly support the Kill Switch in mobile phones and they could save $2.6 billion annually if it were made mandatory on all phones.

In a survey of 1,200 smartphone owners, Duckworth studied consumer support for the Kill Switch, consumer habits regarding cell phone insurance and the links between the two. His findings indicate that consumers not only support a free Kill Switch on all phones, they expect it.

“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,” said Duckworth. “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.”

According to the survey:
- 99 percent of smartphone owners feel wireless carriers should give all consumers the option to disable a cell phone if stolen
- 83 percent of smartphone owners believe a Kill Switch would reduce cell phone theft
- 93 percent of smartphone owners believe Americans should not be expected to pay extra fees for the ability to disable a stolen phone

To estimate the financial savings a Kill Switch could deliver, he considered two components: the cost of replacing stole phones and the cost of paying for premium cell phone insurance covering stolen phones. He found a Kill Switch could save Americans up to $2.6 billion per year.

According to the survey:
- Americans spend about $580 million per year replacing stolen phones.
- They also spend another $4.8 billion per year paying for premium cell phone insurance from their wireless carriers.

If the Kill Switch significantly reduced cell phone theft, consumers could save about $580 million a year by not needing to replace stolen phones and another $2 billion a year by switching from premium cell phone insurance to more basic coverage offered by third parties such as Apple and SquareTrade for a total of about $2.6 billion annually.

Duckworth is an associate professor of Business Intelligence and Analytics in the Heider College of Business at Creighton University. His research focuses on consumer behavior, statistics, experiment designs and computational issues in statistics. He received National Science Foundation grants and awards for his efforts to improve teaching and learning in statistics. Duckworth also designed and released the “Warranty Consultant” app for the iPhone.