Report: Philadelphia Is A Phone Vacuum. Where Else?

By March 24, 2012

With apologies to Lady Gaga, you don’t have to be drunk on red wine (and produced by award-winning songwriter RedOne) to lose your phone – though the drinking does help, according to new research.

Mobile security developer Lookout Mobile revealed that the cost associated with lost handsets will top $30 billion this year.

“Since phone loss can have such a huge impact on our wallets and everyday lives, we got to thinking: what kinds of places are people losing their phones?” reads a blog post announcing the data. “Are there some cities around the world where you’re more likely to lose a phone?”

Researchers analyzed anonymized data from Lookout’s 15 million users worldwide, looking for patterns by geography and time of day. Surprisingly, they found that users in some areas were significantly more likely to lose their phones than in others.

In the U.S., for example, owners were most likely to lose a phone in Philadelphia, Seattle, and Oakland. Internationally, users in Manchester, Delhi, and Jakarta all lost an average of two phones a year.

Of course, causation doesn’t imply causality. It’s unlikely that moving to Manchester will  make you a more forgetful person, even if the confounding factor or third variable that explains the trend isn’t immediately clear. For example, there may be a crime connection. Researchers noted that, at least in the U.S., many cities with the most lost phones had been identified as high-crime areas by the FBI.

Less surprising was the finding that two out of three lost phones are misplaced in the late evening hours when owners are the most likely to be stumbling around unfamiliar places in an inebriated condition. Hand in hand with that finding, you’re more likely to lose your phone in some types of places than others: Watch out for cafes, restaurants and drinking establishments all common places to leave a phone behind, according to Lookout. Harder to explain are the large number of phones lost in offices.

And with increasingly sophisticated mobile technology, some phones represent larger investments. With the rise of smartphones in recent years, misplacing a high tech handset can set you back hundreds of dollars.

But all isn’t lost. Lookout’s main service – and the one they’re clearly promoting with this trove of lost phone data – is locating phones using GPS technology, as well as offering mobile backup and security solutions. Last year, according to the company, they located 9 million lost units.

Lookout also created a series of interactive pages to parse the data.