28 February 2007

Recovery statistics

As almost all of our cases for the past year have been closed, we are ready to report our recovery statistics for 2006, our first year of operation. A lot of our clients have asked for these statistiscs, so we are happy to finally publish them. In order to make reading and / or skimming easier, we are publishing the facts, followed by our comments.

About 2.2% of all Undercover-enabled Macs have been stolen in 2006
This number is even higher than we anticipated. This means that during the average lifetime of a Mac, which is about 4 years, you have a chance of about 8% that it will be stolen.

Of all stolen Macs, 72% are connected to the Internet at least once
This percentage refutes the common misconception that most thieves will never use a stolen Mac on the Internet. Think about it, almost 3 out of 4 thieves will go online with the stolen machine!

Of all stolen Macs that are connected, we were able to recover 96%
If your stolen Mac were to be connected to the Internet, even if it's just for a few seconds, you can be almost certain that we will recover it. Since some cases haven't been closed yet, we hope to end the year with a recovery rate that's even closer to 100%.

All in all, we are extremely pleased with these numbers and we are very proud to report them. We are confident to have one of the highest recovery rates in the industry. The bottom line is that we recovered 96% of the stolen Macs that we were technically able to recover, as there is no way to track a Mac that has not been connected.

You might ask yourself, what happens to the other 28% of stolen machines which are never connected? With the current generation of theft recovery software, they are pretty much out of luck. No software currently on the market today is able to geographically locate a Mac that does not phone home. We want to change that, however, and we want to go for the remaining 28% (= 100%- 72%) that's never connected. The next upgrade to Undercover will be even smarter and it will be able to play its cards, even if the stolen machine never goes online. And before you are asking: yes, the upgrade will be free.


Anonymous said...

But the question remains how many macs have been recovered. Not just the % but rather the total number. I'm just curious however I assume if you release this data you'll be releasing your total number of sales as well so I can understand if you don't want to share that info

Peter Schols said...

You are right: we are not releasing the absolute numbers because that would reveal our actual sales figures and we don't want to do that. However, you can be confident that the numbers are large enough to justify these statistics. Several thousands of Macs are currently being protected by Undercover.

Yoram Ish-Hurwitz said...

Peter, one of the selling points for desktop Macs (at least for me) is the fact that the recovery of the stolen machine may also lead to the recovery of other stolen things (audio set, TV etc, silver ware) in case of a burglary. Certainly better than looking for finger prints.

Peter Schols said...

Yoram, I fully agree. Thanks to Undercover, the police has been able to recover stolen printers, iSight cameras, computers (that did not have theft-recovery software on them) and many other stolen goods. We plan to have more recovery stories on this weblog illustrating this.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone is wondering, the statistics posted suggest the following measurements: The chance of your mac being stolen and never recovered (if you buy no recovery software) is about 9% (same as the chance of it being stolen). The chance of your mac being stolen and never recovered if you bought Undercover, however, is 9% * (28% + (72% * 4%)) = about 2.8%. So your chance of losing your mac forever gets cut to less than 1/3 of its previous value by purchasing Undercover. That's pretty nice.

Anonymous said...

This is amazing!

Anonymous said...

There's a 9% chance of your Mac getting stolen in the course of your four year ownership. Think about that. It's a total nonsense statistic.

How many computers are stolen? How many Macs are stolen? How many of those Macs run Undercover? Without any qualifiers, your absolute claim is spurious.

I also question your statistics skills - if you're going to extrapolate a rate of 2.2% of all Undercover-enabled Macs for any given 12 month period, should it not be the same for a 48 month period? Why multiply by four? Isn't the chance, given your conditions, always 2.2%? Or rather, shouldn't you run a four year study before claiming any rates of theft?

People use statistics badly all the time. You need not be one of them. Your product might be even more appealing if you publish a white paper "showing your work" - along with a properly derived summary for those of us too lazy to read white papers.

All math-bashing aside, I only comment because your product seems quite worth its while. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Nice work!
I'm sorry to say that it's a bit late for me:( My house was broken into and my macbook(my life) was left in the dirty hands of thieves.
Lesson learned. If I can ever come up with the money to shell out for a new one, I will definitely be an appreciative customer. Apple can take a lesson or two you! Bravo, for coming up with a truly innovative product.
Best of luck,

Peter Schols said...

Thanks for your comments. While you have good reasons to question my statistics skills, I'm pretty sure the math is right here. The chance that a Mac gets stolen during one year is 2.2%. Assuming that the chance of theft remains the same over time (which seems pretty reasonable), chances must be added: if a one-year exposure of your Mac to the outside world results in a chance of 2.2% that it's stolen, a two-year exposure will have a theft-chance of about 4.4% and so on.

What you are saying is that the chance remains at 2.2%, regardless of the amount of time the Mac is being used and thus being exposed to thieves.

Peter Schols said...


I'm sorry to hear about your MacBook!
We hope to welcome you soon to the Undercover community!


Julian-G. Albert said...

I don't understand, why you can't publish absolute numbers of how many Macs were stolen from your customers? You won't tell me, that we can get the absolute number of you customers?! I really can't believe it!! Where should be the problem. The only problem seems to be, that you have about 5 stolen Macs and it might be a little bit embrassing. But, where is the problem. The sales number isn't an indicator for your success. I like your tool and think about buying it. But you would show much more trust, if the customers see, that you really play with open cards - and trust is an important word for your job, because you might have total power over one's Mac.

Jase said...

Can you ask some of those who used your software, had their Macs stolen, and then had them recovered, write about their experience?

It would be interesting and reassuring to read a testimonial or two.


Anonymous said...

here is a story about a succesfull recovery: http://www.orbicule.com/undercover/recovery.html
It's not quiet a testimonial but close enough

Anonymous said...

I checked your recovery page, but that was almost a year old story! So I need to see if you have the most latest story to prove that your application is reliable and security. Sorry, I need to see it first before I purchase your software. Thanks for your attention.

Peter Schols said...

While the story itself is almost a year old, it was only published in November. Please keep in mind that we can't publish stories right away, as in most cases the police investigation takes more time and the information can't be released during the investigation. That being said, we do have a couple of interesting recovery stories that are coming soon.

Anonymous said...

When is your timetable for the next upgrade? Can you devulge some info about what new features will be included?

henkk said...

Here's an idea for recovering offline macbooks:

Have it send a Bluetooth message to any nearby devices saying: "SMS your name to 32xxx"

Now you have the name and number of someone who's been hanging out near your laptop, possibly the thief himself!

Basically, you can the person and try to get information regarding the location ("Where would you like your iPod delivered?" or "Are you at home right now?" provided you phone them quick enough)

Not a foolproof idea for sure, but it could help in extreme cases!

Anonymous said...

What if you only use wifi ? Will the police go around the cafe's asking to see your Serial number ?

Anonymous said...

Jim Said,
Myt wife just had her MacBook stolen at gunpoint in Quito Ecuador. I didn't know of Undercover before this but I should assure i=you all, I now have it on my iMac and will install it on a new MacBook also. I hope to never have to use it but the feeling of helplessness I now have with the stolen MacBook is frustrating. We did not have it password protected nor a back up. Teh wireless mouse is gone, a Huewei cell modem also, tons of I tunes and on and on. Probably in Columbia in the hands of FARC. If you could find that one it would be great.