What Are the Odds of Getting Back a Lost Cell Phone?

What cell phone user hasn’t had a phone drop out of his pocket, get left on an airport security conveyor belt, or (in my case) driven off with the phone sitting on top of the car? Did you get your phone back? While my handset was never to be seen again, in most parts of the world, things tend to turn out better. Reader’s Digest (of all places) put 32 cities to the test to see whether lost cell phones would be properly returned, leaving 30 phones in heavily trafficked public areas, then calling them from a distance or waiting for a random callback.How’d humanity fare in getting those phones back? In 28 of those cities, at least half of the phones were returned, and in 20 of them, a full two-thirds were. The worldwide average: a 68 percent return rate. That’s better than I would have expected.

Who did best? A small town in Slovenia, where 29 of 30 handsets were returned to their owner. At the bottom of the barrel: Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur residents managed to return only 13 of 30 phones.

Other top cities included Toronto, Seoul, and Stockholm. New York City, the only American location tested, tied for fifth, with 24 phones returned.

While I could pontificate and ponder as to the reasons why some cities are better than others at returning property to their owners, I think the data is fascinating on its own. Here’s the full rundown of all 32 cities (PDF link), and don’t miss the full story, linked below, for a little insight into both the helpful and sometimes not-so-helpful human mind.


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Apple Upgrades iPhone

steve jobsSteve Jobs isn’t usually one to bow to his critics, but give Apple credit for addressing two major flaws on the iPhone before it goes on sale on June 29.

Apple (nasdaq: AAPL news people ) said Monday that the iPhone will now come with a battery that supports up to eight hours of talk time, three hours more than previously announced. Apple also said the new battery could support up to six hours of Internet use, seven hours of video playback or 24 hours of audio playback.

Apple’s battery received harsh criticism (see ” Why You May Not Want An iPhone“) because early indications suggest that it can’t be removed and replaced with a fully charged spare, like consumers can do with competing smart phones from Palm (nasdaq: PALM news people ), Motorola (nyse: MOT news people ), HTC and Research In Motion (nasdaq: RIMM news people ).

Apple also said Monday that it is upgrading the iPhone’s screen from plastic to optical-quality glass, which should improve durability and prevent scratching.

While the upgrades address the iPhone’s two biggest flaws, critics still question Apple’s decision not to support carrier AT&T‘s (nyse: T news people ) fastest “third-generation” (3G) data network, instead requiring users to access a slower, older network.

Jobs says he expects to sell 10 million iPhones worldwide by the end of next year.


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YouTube Calling

Apple‘s iPhone partnership with Google was extended beyond maps Wednesday and into video, one of the big-screened telephone’s most promising functions. When the iPhone launches on June 29, it will feature a built-in player for Google’s YouTube videos.

A YouTube button on the phone’s home screen will enable wireless streaming of an initial 10,000 videos, recorded in a special battery-reserving format. iPhone owners can use WiFi connections to watch clips, or they can attempt to rely on AT&T‘s (nyse: T news people ) less than speedy EDGE data connection.

The iPhone-YouTube deal emphasizes the end of an exclusive partnership YouTube made in November 2006 with Verizon (nyse: VZ news people ) to share videos with that company’s customers. On Sunday, YouTube launched a limited mobile site accessible by anyone. (See: “Not Quite YouTube To Go.” )

On May 30, Apple (nasdaq: AAPL news people ) announced a deal with Google (nasdaq: GOOG news people ) to bring YouTube content to its Apple set-top television box. That deal, in addition to the inclusion of Google’s mobile maps and YouTube software on the iPhone, show the two companies are eager to partner up. (See: “Brought to You By Goopple.”)

“Now users can enjoy YouTube wherever they are,” said Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs. “On their iPhone, on their Mac or on a widescreen TV in their living room with Apple TV.”

The iPhone’s YouTube program was built by Apple, not Google, signifying the company’s intentions to limit access to the phone’s operating system. At the company’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference earlier this month, Apple told developers they’d be allowed to develop applications for the iPhone that ran inside a Web browser, rather than on the phone itself.


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