How the 6 digit Apple passcode requirement wastes $6.551 Billion annually

Apple this week announced that they are going to require 6 digit passcodes instead of 4 digit passcodes for the lock screen.

Newer ipads and iphones will require the 6 digit passcodes. That’s apparently more secure than 4 digit passcodes.

The only reason to go to 6 digits is when your phone gets stolen by someone who can brute force 10,000 codes (with 4 digits). Well, apparently, most people use pretty common passwords, so if you only try 27 known passcodes (such as 1111) then your chances of unlocking the phone are at 67%. That means only a third of the people actually use complicated passcodes that will take more than 15 minutes to crack.

If however, you have 6 digits, then the combinations are a million (versus 10,000+) so, it should take longer and more effort to crack your password.

I doubt that. 90% of people will go with 111111 instead of 1111 is my guess, or 123456 instead of 1234. Now, your stolen phone will take 22 minutes to be unlocked instead of 15. Yay!

Apple has sold 512 Iphones to date and about 200 million iPads. Of those, about 75% or 534 Million devices are still in active use. 83% of them run the latest version of iOS.

I am going to assume that most people will upgrade to the new OS version so about 500 million (534 million to be exact) iOS devices will be upgraded to 6 digit passcodes.

The median salary in the US is about $42,000 and the median iPhone users salary worldwide is higher – $53,000.

90% of the iPhone users move to 6 digit passcodes and each user actually unlocks their phone 50 times a day (given that most users glance or unlock their phone 150 – 500 times a day, it is a reasonable assumption).

The extra two digits will cause 1 second more to unlock is also a fair assumption to make.

This equates to $6,551,388,888.89 in productivity loss every year.

iPhone 6 digit passcode Migration Wasted Productivity
iPhone 6 digit passcode Migration Wasted Productivity

With no discernible added security. All for a feature going from 4 digit passcodes to 6 digits.

There were 1.6 Million phones stolen in 2014. The average price of the stolen iPhone was $250, equating to a $400 Million market.

End note: I know the value of a stolen iPhone to a user (especially if there is a loss of life tragically in some cases) is much more than $250, but a 6 digit passcode is not going to change that for the better.

5 thoughts on “How the 6 digit Apple passcode requirement wastes $6.551 Billion annually”

  1. Yea except that’s what touch ID is for, which actually cuts the time to unlock a phone down to .3 seconds and increases security a million fold so your argument is mostly moot, except for the people that don’t utilize the feature but those will be the minority since it is so much easier. So, you could say, Apple is actually adding a billion dollars back into the economy because of Touch ID. Seems legit.

  2. Fascinating analysis…Two things come to mind:
    1. Not sure of row 7..Shouldn’t it be row 6 x (50 times a day x 365 days an year)..maybe I’m missing something ..That makes the number ~$16Bn
    2. Though I understand this is a quick – back of the envelope, purely for academic purpose analysis, but a small refinement may be to calculate the salary per second by only dividing by the amount of productive time (i.e. a third of a day assuming an 8 hour workday).
    At the same time the number of times someone unlocks the phone should only be assumed to happen during the hours s/he is not sleeping (i.e. about 16 hours in a day assuming a 8 hour sleeping time)…
    That’ll bump this number by 3/2 or 50% i.e. ~$9.75 Bn in this case

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