If Then

Dumb Phones

Smartphone sales are on the decline, but shady characters buying your location data are on the rise.

Listen to If Then by clicking the arrow on the audio player below, or get the show via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

On today’s show, hosts April Glaser and Will Oremus discuss startling new revelations about some of the major phone carriers. The story broke this week in Motherboard titled “I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone.” It details how T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to customers’ location data to shady characters like landlords and collection agencies.


And speaking of phones, could we finally be witnessing an end to the iPhone’s dominance of the technology industry? Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook warned about a shortfall in global iPhone revenue. We’ll talk about why that is and what it might mean for Apple’s future.


And if you work even remotely adjacent to the tech industry, then you know … this week is the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES—the biggest annual tech expo in the world, held in Las Vegas. We’ll be joined by Dieter Bohn, executive editor of the Verge, from the floor of the show.

17:05 - Interview with Dieter Bohn.

35:13 - Don’t Close My Tabs

Stories Discussed on the Show:


Slate: “The iPhone’s Reign Is Coming to an End. What’s Next?

New York magazine: “We’re No Longer in Smartphone Plateau. We’re in the Smartphone Decline.

Stratechery: “Apple’s Errors

Motherboard: “I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone.

The Verge: “The Moral Case for iMessage on Android

Don’t Close My Tabs:

Slate: “Chicago Dug the World’s Biggest Flood-Stopping Tunnel. What if the City Got It Wrong?

New Statesman America: “London’s Victorian Hyperloop: the Forgotten Pneumatic Railway Beneath the Capital’s Streets

Podcast production by Max Jacobs.

If Then plugs:

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State UniversityNew America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.