5 Strange Ways iPhones Die: Insurer Hears it All
Lately, Aaron Cooper, marketing director at Worth Ave. Group, a company that insures consumer electronics against accidental damage, theft, vandalism, fire, flood and natural disasters, has seen some odd cases come through the door.
Two-thirds of all claims fall into three categories, says Cooper: Liquid damage, cracked screens and theft. But exactly how iPhones get wet or why screens crack can be, sadly, entertaining.
Flushing the iPhone
Public enemy number one of the iPhone is water. I ruined an iPhone after accidently putting it in the washing machine. But perhaps the most odd form of liquid damage is when people drop the iPhone in the toilet.
Cooper has seen a rise in this type of claim. He figures people are using the iPhone while they're, um, unavailable. Last year, Harris Interactive surveyed 2,625 U.S. adults about what they consider proper smartphone etiquette during the holiday season. Three out of four respondents said it's perfectly appropriate to use your smartphone in the bathroom.
Yet one twist on this disaster has Cooper stumped. "Women seem to be the ones dropping them in the toilet more often," he says.
iPhone and Beer Don't Mix
Many of Worth Ave. Group's customers are college-aged kids, and their iPhones don't mix well with their habits. A night of hard partying can easily lead to a missing or damaged iPhone, Cooper says.
iPhones often get stolen, he says, when someone plugs their iPhone into a stereo system at a house party. The unattended iPhone goes missing after the music stops. iPhones also get lifted at bars when the iPhone owner isn't carefully watching it, like the iPhone 4 prototype stolen from an Apple (AAPL) engineer at a Silicon Valley watering hole.
Call of the Wild
Many broken iPhones come to the insurer with shattered screens. One of the reasons, says Cooper, is that Apple no longer sells screen protectors. Starting with the iPhone 3GS and now the iPhone 4, Apple says that it has made the iPhone highly scratch resistant.
This year at MacWorld Expo, Worth Ave. Group had attendees smash iPhone screens with a hammer. Screens without a screen protector broke easily.
A screen protector could have spoiled a feline attack, says Cooper. He recalls a recent case that started with an iPhone and a cat sitting peacefully on a table. The iPhone was in silent mode. When the iPhone received a message, it began vibrating. The surprised cat swatted at the iPhone, sending it across the room and shattering the screen.
Down the Elevator Shaft
The iPhone has proven to be a great travel companion. Travel apps such as FlightTrack and Kayak are some of the most popular in the App Store.
It seems iPhones can be lost anywhere - even in hotel elevator shafts. Cooper says he's had a few claims where iPhones slipped out of people's hands and through the small gap between the elevator door and floor. That is, down the elevator shaft.
Perhaps people are putting their iPhones away as they get into the elevator, fearing loss of connectivity. Or maybe they don't want to use their iPhones in enclosed places where other people are present. Whatever the reason, many people are clearly dropping their iPhones in elevators and a few fall between the cracks.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
When I realized I had ruined my own iPhone in the washing machine, I admit I couldn't think clearly. In one fell swoop, I had lost something that I use perhaps a hundred times a day (which probably shows an unhealthy attachment to a tech gadget).
That's why I wasn't surprised to hear Cooper's recount of a woman customer who left her iPad on the top of her car and drove off. The iPad crashed on the cement. The woman, he says, realized what had happened and quickly turned the car around to retrieve it. In her zest, she ran over the hapless iPad.
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