“Apple does not have a process to track or flag lost or stolen product”. That’s exactly what the Apple support pages say.
Having worked on the problem for years and seen the human consequences of violent theft, it appears a fairly arrogant statement to make. It’s not a safe, fluffy world out there (unless you live your life permanently in a gated development).
As Intel’s Robert Siciliano told Reuters in January, ‘Apple seems to have not considered stolen devices and instead is relying on the honor system’….’The honor system is devised with the mindset that we are all sheep and there are no wolves.’
There are certainly lots of wolves out there. Mobile phone theft appears to be starting to grow again.
Apple’s Q3 figures released in July 2012 showed a net profit of $8.8B. So is it too much to ask Apple to spend a bit of that profit on a process that helps consumers and reduces the desirability and ease of theft? They certainly have the global reach to do it (and currently, much more than the mobile network operators). It seems to me a little unfair for them to put everything on the mobile network operator just because they have the contract with the end user.
The Police (particularly in the UK) are doing their best against street crime and it is surely incumbent upon Apple as a good corporate citizen to try and help minimise theft of hot products such as the iPhone.
Channel 4 did a great report on the situation in London last month:
Criminals are getting savvy – they’re also turning off the find and locate features of modern smartphones and wiping the devices so you’ll never get them back. They can even continue using the phones in the country they were stolen in, even if the IMEI number is blocked. They just don’t use the core “phone” functionality. WhatsApp and everything else will work just fine.
Phone theft is a tough nut to crack, as I pointed out in this talk. However, if certain companies are just putting their head in the sand and responding to the media with ‘no comment’, we’re in a bad place.