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“Lost Phone Survey” Makes Suspicious Claims

Submitted by on March 26, 2012 – 9:37 am2 Comments

If you’ve read a tech blog in the last week, you’ve probably heard about a new survey that claims Americans lose their smartphones once a year on average, at a cost of $30 billion in 2011. But the study comes from Lookout Mobile Security, a company that sells- surprise surprise- cell phone tracking software, and has a vested interest in making this seem like a big problem. Even if that weren’t true, the numbers just don’t add up.

John C. Dvorak at PC Mag breaks down the most suspicious claims:

Let’s just ask ourselves one simple question about one of the claims: Do you lose your phone once a year? (I won’t even delve into the math surrounding the $30 billion assertion.) There are about 350,000,000 cell phones being used in the country. The survey asserts that every American loses his or her smartphone on average once a year. They thus must lose their cheap phones even more. So you are telling me that there are billions of lost cell phones floating around the country?

I also thought it was odd that Lookout counted a loss as every time a user activated their software. Surely, some of those were just tests, and some of the activations resulted in recovering the lost phone.

Dvorak also calls out the media for sharing this story so widely; but the easy headlines about “Losing Your Phone In A Philadelphia Coffee Shop” (the most likely US city and most likely location, according to the study) proved too eyecatching to pass up.

(Yours truly has been guilty of this before, writing about virus threats based on data from McAfee Security.)

What do you think? Are lost cellphones a real problem in the US?

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