Earlier this morning, news of a “kill-switch” feature that would decrease mobile theft for Windows and Android handsets was announced.
Following the success of Apple’s Activation Lock feature released last September, theft of other handsets increased. But now, Windows and Google plan to tackle the issue with plans of a kill-switch feature.
The switch is similar to that of the industrial emergency stop safety mechanism, which shuts off a device in an emergency situation. Unlike a normal orderly shut-down however, the kill switch is designed to shut down the device completely and as quickly as possible causing little damage.
The kill-switch would reduce the financial incentive of mobile theft because easy-to-sell, high-value multimedia devices would become merely ‘a jumble of plastic and glass’ according to the NY State Attorney General. The kill-switch would make the crime less attractive, potentially wiping out the industry around reselling stolen phones for good.
Mobile theft crime was one of the fastest growing and widely recognized issues faced by mobile tech companies in recent years. One in three Europeans experienced mobile theft or loss in 2013 alongside some 3.1 million mobile devices which were stolen in the US , nearly double the number in 2012. In the six months that followed the release of Apple’s Activation Lock however, there was a 24% decrease in iPhone theft in London. These figures are set to fall again for other handsets on the release of the ‘kill switch’ feature.
The feature will not abolish the crime for good but it is a step in the right direction according to Manoj Menon, managing director of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. He told the BBC ‘This is a fantastic move and will go a long way in helping authorities come one step closer to realising a vision of zero theft of mobile phone’.
It is all about keeping ahead of the thief, to plan, prevent and reduce theft rates. The kill-switch will do just that for Windows and Android systems as they join Apple in their quest to beat mobile thieves for good.