In today's edition of the Ad Age Summer Weekend Reader -- in which we serve up recently published in-depth articles about media and/or marketing (think of them as great train or beach reads) -- we're calling attention to a fascinating piece by The Huffington Post's Gerry Smith titled "Inside The Massive Global Black Market For Smartphones." To Americans who are used to thinking of smartphones as ubiquitous and relatively cheap -- thanks to carrier subsidies that dramatically lower the price U.S. consumers typically pay up front -- Smith's heavily reported piece will be an eye-opener. As he explains,
[P]hone trafficking is driven largely by the massive profits made by exploiting the price difference between smartphones sold in the U.S. and overseas.... This equation helps explain why more than 1.6 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft last year and why thefts of mobile devices now make up 40 percent of all robberies in major American cities. The rising street crime is exacting a heavy toll on consumers who spend an estimated $30 billion each year replacing lost and stolen devices, according to Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security firm.
Smith's report takes a look at all the links -- from street criminals to sophisticated buying, repackaging and import/export operations -- in the massive global crime rings that aim to separate you from your smartphone.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.