Mobile devices have become the biggest of all the technology markets. And despite the rise of tablet computing, smartphones remain the most popular mobile devices on the market. In January 2014, worldwide smartphone shipments smashed through the one-billion barrier. The rampant popularity of these devices seemingly knows no bounds, and with many of the manufacturers banking on further expansion to this already huge marketplace via the emerging markets, the seemingly relentless growth in smartphones may be far from over.

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Apple, Samsung and Google: Mobile phone black market

But if there has been one issue which has plagued smartphones in their otherwise inexorable rise, it has been that of security. The hacking of data, the loss of personal information, and physical theft, remain massive issues. There is without doubt a huge black market related to smartphones, and this is often far from admirable. Just days ago, the BBC in Britain reported on a black market of shops and traders willing to deal in stolen smartphones.

It was surely only a matter of time before the huge corporations which represent the major players in the smartphone market got their heads together and thrashed something out in an attempt to address this problem. And this finally seems to have happened, as the last 24 hours has seen a major announcement on this subject, as the world’s biggest smartphones makers collaborated in an agreement which purportedly attempts to protect the personal data on smartphones all over the world.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and several other of the most important companies in the smartphone market have banded together to develop an anti-theft tool which will be built into their devices going forward. The tool will apparently enable smartphone owners to remotely wipe and restore their devices from back-up versions. According to the mobile industry trade group CTIA, who have broken this news today, the measures undertaken will also prevent anyone else from using a stolen device once this process has been activated.

The full list of companies involved reads: Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Asurion, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), HTC America, Huawei Device USA, Motorola Mobility, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V), Samsung Telecommunications America, Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S), T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:TMUS), United States Cellular Corporation (NYSE:USM) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), so it is quite evident that this has received almost industry-wide support. It is probably not unreasonable to expect some delays with this project, but reports today have indicated that we can expect to see this begin to be implemented at some point during 2015.

Consumer concerns?

Undoubtedly, the plans will cause some debate among smartphone users and enthusiasts. It is fair to say that most measures which enhance security within mobile devices will be welcomed, and this move may be welcomed by some. But there are those who will be understandably suspicious of a move which has apparently been strongly pushed by some members of the US federal government, particularly when it includes the ‘kill switch’ option. In the shadow of the NSA hacking scandal, some might be rather weary of the US government pushing for phone companies to have the ability to kill people’s mobile phones, and wonder why they’re so concerned about it…

We will have to follow the story as it develops to see how these plans unfold.