The true cost of lost phones

Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:49pm EDT
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By Mitch Lipka

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Over the past four years, Chelsey Lutz, 25, a blogger in New York City, has lost her iPhone seven times.

"I usually leave it in cabs," she says. Somehow, the phone always finds its way back.

Lady Luck has been on Lutz's side.

For many others who are less fortunate, lost phones not only mean a loss of money and banking or personal credential items, which will need replacing, but a risk that private photos and financial and banking details may be pried (or hacked) into.

And there are plenty of those falling into the less lucky group.

Lookout Inc., which makes the Lookout mobile phone-recovery application for Androids and iPhones, found that nine million of its more than 15 million users lost their mobile phones in 2011. These were lost most frequently between 9:00 pm and 2:00 am, in coffee shops, bars, restaurants and offices, Lookout said.

Among just the company's app users, lost phones were valued at an average of about $7 million a day. Lookout extrapolated that figure to all U.S. mobile phone users for a potential replacement cost of $30 billion a year if those phones weren't recovered. Many of those phones, of course, do get returned or turn up, said Lookout, which is studying recovery rates.

"If you're out and around, there's just a higher likelihood of misplacing your phone," says Ayan Mandal, director of products at Lookout, adding that the sheer volume of people losing their phones was striking. Loss reports jump, for example, following festivals, sporting events and other large gatherings, Mandal says.   Continued...