Killing the flagship: The most cautious decision!

The companies are always evolving as they should. Each year, new products are launched which are better than last year’s products. This is true for every market in every sector. Even the products which are not directly sold to the end customer undergo rigorous (I hope) research for improvement.

In the market like computers and mobiles, these products actually go through quite a drastic change in both the looks and the innards. Not even a company like Apple is an exception to it. The iPod has gone through several changes throughout its life as has its Mac series. iPhone has yet only gone through one big change but as time passes this will increase.

Other companies like Samsung, HTC, Sony or even Dell or Lenovo change their designs with almost each new launch.

Now, there are two types of launches. One is the budget product catering the masses. For example, a phone like Galaxy Ace was for low end people. It had low margins and low specifications. It got upgraded to gingerbread and that was the most love it got from Samsung.

Galaxy S2 on the other hand is what we would call a flagship product. It was is the high end phone and when launched showed the best of what Samsung had to offer. Then came Galaxy S3 and the price of S2 fell. Soon enough it will phase out as well.

Galaxy S2

For Sony, it is similar for Xperia S to Xperia T to Xperia Z. Though, it can be argued that Xperia ion was the flagship but the way Sony flaunted Xperia S, I believe it became that. HTC has HTC one X and now HTC Butterfly.

Now, where killing off a low to medium range phone is no big deal. People when buying a phone in that range do not have high hopes and when these hopes do not exist, they do not get ruined. On the other hand, high end customers pay such a premium that they do not want that their phones become old just after one year.

Except for the few tech enthusiasts, most people buy phone for more than a year. They want their phones to last more than its warranty. And by last doesn’t mean just be a good old phone. The latest OS should be present along with the latest feature. It is not easy to digest that a phone just one year old doesn’t have the necessary juice to run all the bells and whistles of the latest phone. Of course, companies will have you believe so. Ironically, they do not have problem with launching a low end phone with lower specs with the same new OS.

Let me cite an example. Sony is delaying the OS 4.1 (Jelly Bean) in Xperia S saying they are trying to get the experience right. This all sounds good but the delay should not be after its minion phones like Xperia P and Xperia Go get the update. Samsung for example has already started rolling out JB for Galaxy S2 and this phone is older than Xperia S.

HTC already has a history of launching phones with latest OS. So, they have only one iteration cycle to follow unlike other companies. (Sony launched Xperia S with 2.3- the horror!)

How do you treat your flagship is really important. Even more important is how you treat your old flagship. Because that is what people will end up with in a few months after buying!

[This article was written by Kunal Prakash]

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