No, not first world problems. I work with researchers from all around the world, and those from resource-limited settings are much LESS able to weather a loss of a laptop from theft, which will be the inevitable result of packing them in our checked bags on their way to conferences or meetings. A laptop gone missing would have a huge impact on my group too. Science funds are tight these days.
People who are blithely dismissing this issue should think a bit. Read some of the articles about the real-world effects. People traveling for business as well as leisure travelers (particularly those with children to entertain on the flights) are all going to be backing away from these routes. It will have a negative effect on the airlines (which may well be the point; again, read up), as well as travel to certain places.
All this would be one thing if it was based on logic and reason, and resulted in increased safety, but storing potential bombs in the cargo hold really ISN'T safer than keeping them in the cabin, is it?