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April 20, 2009

What makes a flagship device?

GLOBAL – We’ve been thinking a lot recently about flagship devices. What makes a device a flagship product, can a company have more than one flagship device are just two of the questions we’ve been asking ourselves. It’s an interesting topic. Looking for some definition doesn’t really help. The dictionary describes Flagship as “the best or most important thing owned or produced by a particular organization”. Which leads us directly to the next problem of what is the most important thing. Seen in different contexts, it could be any number of things. The most important thing for emerging markets, for example, isn’t the same as the most important thing for developed markets.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Nokia Conversations (we went live on April 21 2008) and so we thought this would be a good time to explore the whole idea of flagship devices. Tomorrow we’ll do a poll to have you guys tell us what you think the most important considerations are when it comes to defining a flagship device.

We have a few to get things going, but we’d appreciate your input so we can put together a comprehensive list, and then look at which ones come out on top. Features and functionality is an obvious one. To take the literal meaning of flagship (and the interpretation by many companies) the device with the most, and best, features would be the one at the top of the heap. Soon, we might describe the N97 as the flagship device (and there’s another one, should a flagship only be defined if the device is actually on sale, or after it has been officially announced?).

Price too, is a consideration. For some companies, it isn’t their most expensive device that gets landed with the flagship tag. How important is this, do you think? Sales success, too, could be an influencer. Is the most popular device the flagship? Certainly, in Nokia’s case at least, the most feature-heavy device isn’t always the most popular. It isn’t to say it’s unpopular, simply that other more basic devices frequently have greater adoption (witness the 1100, which has sold over 200 million units). The N95, by comparison (and one that would definitely be considered a flagship in my opinion) only sold over 15 million.

These are the key influencers we can think of, but we’re pretty certain there’s plenty more we should consider in the poll. So go ahead, tell us what you think and we’ll be back on our birthday (tomorrow) with a poll to decide the most important.

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