Trustonic is warning device manufacturers about weaknesses in the product supply chain after thieves stole £5 million worth of Apple products from a truck that was on the road in England. The incident speaks to a bigger problem within the mobile industry. The GSMA estimates that more than four million devices go missing in the US alone on an annual basis, leading to losses of roughly $900 million.
According to Trustonic, the high numbers reflect the appeal of smartphones on the black market. The company notes that the value of a flagship phone has tripled in the past ten years, and that there is a steady demand for those items now that smartphones have become an everyday necessity for people all over the world. That combination makes smartphones appealing to organized criminals, who can get a street value of £750,000 for a single pallet.
Many of those phones go missing while in transit, with theft from a vehicle accounting for 46 percent of all cargo theft. The problem is especially bad in the UK, though electronics are the most commonly stolen commodity in Europe more broadly. Individual consumers, meanwhile, have reported more than 48 million stolen devices in the past ten years, and the true number of thefts is estimated to be much higher. A thousand devices go missing every day in the UK, and the comparable number is 15,000 in Brazil.
Given the scope of the problem, Trustonic argues that manufacturers need a way to disincentivize the theft of smartphones. In that regard, the company is pitching its own Telecoms Platform as a potential solution. The Platform is installed during manufacture, and makes it so that Android devices are not activated until the point of sale. Those that do go missing can also be locked remotely. Both features negate the resale value of a stolen device.
Trustonic first unveiled its Asset Lifecycle Protection Service in February of 2019. Since then, major device manufacturers like Samsung and LG have started using the service to protect their mobile products.