Lookout Finds 62% of People Hoard at Least One Old Mobile Phone

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Thursday, November 29th 2012

Concerns about data and privacy a top reason people don’t part with old phones

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This holiday season, 33 million new smartphones1 will hit store shelves, and people everywhere will upgrade to new devices. Mobile phones have an average lifespan of 18 months2, so what happens to old phones, and the personal information on the phones, when they are retired for the next best device? Lookout, mobile security leader and makers of an app that helps people safeguard their phone and their data even if it is lost or stolen, conducted a survey3 to learn more about the growing old phone problem.

Lookout found that there is a mountain of unwanted, unused mobile phones in households across the country. If the unwanted mobile phones in the U.S. were to physically be lined up, there would be a mobile phone trail from San Francisco to the North Pole and back.

  • 62% said they have at least one unused mobile phone in their household (21% have one, 21% have two, 9% have three).
  • Some hoard more than others: 11% said they have four or more unused old mobile phones in their household.

Despite an increasing number of alternatives to dispose of old phones, there are a number of reasons why people leave them unused in drawers and cupboards.

  • Nearly 1 in 3 said they just don’t know what to do with their old phones.
  • 13% said they are concerned about the information on the old phone being exposed.
  • 17% said they have not yet erased the information on their old phones.

“We were surprised to learn how many people hold on to old phones. People are concerned about the personal information living on the device, and we suspect it contributes to why people are still holding on to it,” said Jenny Roy, mobile safety advocate at Lookout. “Before you donate, resell or recycle your phone, it’s important to take steps to remove the data so if your phone gets a new owner, your information doesn’t get exposed.”

In the U.S., it’s estimated that fewer than 11% of discarded mobile phones will be recycled.4 However, people are not against letting go of the device. Nearly 52% of people Lookout surveyed said they would give their phone to a charitable cause, while 22% said they would trade it or sell it for money. According to Comparemymobile.com, the average mobile phone owner has an estimated $160 worth of unused phones in their household.

Lookout recommends that people take a few steps to protect their data and privacy before letting go of an old device:

Contacts

SutherlandGold Group
Colleen White, 203-858-6071
cwhite@sutherlandgold.com

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