From the “wait, what?” department:
In his letters, [New York State Attorney General] Schneiderman asked why companies such as Apple and Samsung, which develop such sophisticated devices, can’t also create technology to render stolen devices inoperable and eliminate the expanding black market.
Apart from the technical challenges, just think of the potential problems (errors, malicious hacking, etc.) that would result from our cell phones having remote-triggered self-destruct capability controlled by phone vendors. If you want to protect your phone, install security software like the free Sophos Mobile Security, which allows you to remotely locate, lock, or wipe your phone, but doesn’t render the phone itself inoperable. And if you’re that concerned about your phone being stolen, buy insurance (or, for families, self-insure by setting aside enough savings to replace one of the family’s phones in case of loss/theft).