Apple’s Activation Lock is the company’s response to the legal mandate that requires OEMs to provide a “kill switch” in order to render a device useless in case of theft, and as a result, removing the device as a target for such action. In the case of iOS, if you don’t know the owner’s iCloud password, it won’t matter if you wipe the device, you wont’ be able to activate it. This feature became available since iOS 7 for devices compatible with positive results at the beginning, but it seems thieves are smarter.
Even though Activation Lock has proven to be a success in cities like San Francisco and London, the results haven’t been so positive in other cities. The reasons don’t really have to do with activation lock. iPhone theft in cities like Oakland only dropped 11%, and in the case of Austin this actually grew 23%. What thieves are doing now is reselling these locked devices on eBay, and obviously giving the victim of theft an opportunity to pay a couple of bucks to get his or her iPhone back. In other cases, a stolen iPhone is still a good sell on eBay for parts as well.
Let’s see how Apple addresses this new strategy, as there is a law that requires action.