That's according to new data released today by mobile security firm Lookout, whose service includes a feature that helps people locate lost or stolen smartphones. The company, which boasts 15 million users worldwide, located nine million lost iPhones or Android-based devices for people last year, or one phone every 3.5 seconds. Lookout estimates the value of the devices it helped users recover in 2011 is at about $2.5 billion, said Chief Technical Officer Kevin Mahaffey.
Statistics vary according to location and user behavior. For instance, Americans seem to lose their smartphones on average once a year, compared to twice a year in Manchester, England, and once every four years in Austin, Texas, Lookout said. The highest incidents of phone loss are in Amsterdam, Manchester, Prague, Jakarta, Philadelphia and Seattle, Mahaffey said.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of lost or stolen devices go missing between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time -- go figure. There are also big spikes in lost-phone reports during big events such as sports games and New Year's Eve celebrations, according to Lookout.
"We're releasing this information to help people realize how common it is to lose your phone," Mahaffey said. "If we can help people understand when the risk times are maybe they will remember to check their pockets for their phones and have that extra level of caution."
Lookout is launching a resources section on its Web site with interactive maps that provide more details information about statistics in specific cities, as well as general mobile security tips.