A pair of fascinating yet utterly predictable news items crossed my desk last week. Both concerned how Apple's product decisions affected the behavior of millions of mobile users—and others—around the world.
I'll explain why they're fascinating in a moment, but it's easy to show how predictable they were. I pretty much predicted both them myself!
The two items I'm talking about are:
- iPhone thefts drop after "kill switches" installed
- iPhone 6 Plus owners use twice as much data as iPhone 6 users
Kill switches change potential thieves' behavior
According to Reuters:
"The number of stolen iPhones dropped by 40 percent in San Francisco and 25 percent in New York in the 12 months after Apple Inc added a kill switch to its devices in September 2013. In London, smartphone theft dropped by half, according to an announcement by officials in the three cities."
Almost a year ago, I wrote that laws and deals requiring cellphone kill switches to be installed and turned on by default would make a huge difference in mobile security and privacy. And it seems that is exactly what is happening now. Enough potential theft targets are being rendered useless that many potential thieves are deciding the crime is no longer worth it.
Any drop in cellphone theft represents a huge win for mobile users—both consumers and enterprises. The value here is not just that you can wipe and brick a stolen phone to protect your data, but that the odds of a still super-annoying and often dangerous crime and loss are lower.
Just as important, like mass vaccinations, that trend benefits everyone, even those whose phones don't have kill switches. Big thanks to the public and law enforcement officials who pushed for these deals and laws. And also to the phone makers — Apple and Samsung so far, with Microsoft set to join them this year — who went along even if they had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. Like vaccinations, though, the effort becomes more successful the more phones have kill switches installed. So c'mon phone vendors and carriers, it's time to get with the program. It's working!
Surprise: Phablet owners use much more data
This second trend was also easy to see coming. Phablets have been becoming more and more popular for one simple reason: people increasingly use their smartphones as portable computers, not mobile telephones. And the more users realize this, the more they want as big a screen as possible. Apple's iPhone 6 Plus finally caught up to this trend and helped give it even more momentum.
The recent usage data released by Citrix demonstrates the effect super clearly. iPhone 6 Plus users consume approximately twice as much data as iPhone 6 users. The only thing surprising about this revelation is that degree. It just makes sense that people who know they'll be using their mobile devices primarily as computers would want the biggest screen possible. And it also makes sense that bigger-screen devices that make it easier to work with data encourage people to do just that.
To put the trend in perspective, Cult of Mac reports, "it turns out that iPhone 6 Plus users don't just use twice as much data as iPhone 6 users, they use 1000% more data than users of the iPhone 3GS." I haven't seen numbers on how screen size of Android devices affects data usage, but I'm pretty confident that they'd trend in a similar direction.
This trend will inevitably continue as mobile devices — and our uses of them — evolve away from mobile phones into mobile computers. Phablets may not be the ultimate phorm of this phantastic phuture, but the phone metaphor is already starting to seem a bit anachronistic.