Let’s have a debate shall we. In recent history, whether it be Apple or an Android OEM, the typical release cycle for a flagship smartphone has been one year. However, with the increasing popularity of cell phones and loyalty behind various companies, some manufacturers have attempted to launch more than one flagship smartphone per year. Only now are some players increasing the time span between flagship iterations. In your opinion, which is the best strategy?
The middle ground has traditionally been a one year time scale. But this is not the case for all companies. Samsung and LG carry two flagship lineups a piece that come back every year. For example, Samsung comes out with a Galaxy S flagship in March and a new Galaxy Note in September. Others like Huawei and Sony have come out with flagship successors in the same year. Since we take note on every phone, coming out with a second model sparks chatter around a company. A new phone also includes new promotion material, hence why some companies think its beneficial to launch a second phone. Despite device owners being loyal to their brand and upgrading more frequently than in the past, a semi-annual launch cycle nearly killed Sony, and others have taken a hit as well. This could be due to incremental change, as technology only goes so far in a mere six months. Some also believe that smartphone innovation is slowing down.
Going back to Samsung, the Korean giant also takes into account market fluctuations as well as the competition. In many cases, this has led Samsung to move up its smartphone launches and releases. This year, though, many of Samsung’s competitors have gone longer than twelve months to announce a new flagship, allowing Samsung to penetrate markets first and stay on top. There have not been as many flagships in 2018 compared to what we saw in 2016 and 2017 as of the same point in time. This is because smaller OEMs like HTC and Motorola, who have been struggling turning profits and gaining market share, have pushed back their flagship product reveals. This is allowing them to make more changes in their phones and perfect everything to have a better chance at attracting last year’s adopters.
We talked about one manufacturer a lot this week in the news, and this company has kept customers on their toes. We’re talking about Chinese OEM, OnePlus, who has established a place in the market by releasing high-end phones at a more affordable price. This has been a growing market in China and emerging markets. In the company’s beginning, OnePlus had two lineups, flagship and mid-range lines. The mid-range was killed off in favor of a higher-end line and OnePlus came out with a new one every year. But over the past two years, OnePlus has shifted to a more frequent, semi-annual release cycle, announcing two models in total per year. When a new one comes out, OnePlus terminates sales of the old, and with the most recent model, OnePlus 5T, OnePlus captured record sales. The company has now confirmed a OnePlus 6, told us lots of information about it, and plans to unveil it early May. This is a mere five months after the OnePlus 5T, and so improvements are said to be minor as a result. Like we’ve said, there are good and bad things about this strategy. OnePlus will have to persuade recent device owners to upgrade if it is to match sales from last year, which won’t be easy. If the strategy is successful like it was for OnePlus 5T, we’ll be able to confirm good qualities about OnePlus’ consumer base.
This brings us to our poll of the week. When do you think a company should release a new flagship smartphone? Is six-months too short, is one year too long to wait, or would you prefer a longer time scale so there’s more hype for something radically new? How often do you upgrade, and do you stick to one brand? Drop a comment letting us know and be sure to vote in our weekly poll down below. The poll will remain open all week and we look forward to hearing your response.
Below are the major stories from this week.