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The five secrets to smartphone success

Building a smartphone isn\'t easy. Building one that\'s a blockbuster success is an even more Herculean task.

1. Strategy. As in, have a long-term one ready. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Companies that want to be successful in this game need to show a little patience. Apple\'s instant success with the original iPhone was an anomaly, and not something other companies can easily replicate. While the Galaxy S brand is a global force now, it\'s easy to forget that the phones had a so-so debut on each carrier in the U.S. -- all with their own ridiculous names. Remember the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch? That was a real tongue-twister.

2. Specifications. If you\'re building a flagship device, don\'t just cram in all of the trendy features and shiny hardware in that you possibly can. Try to anticipate where customer demand and styles of usage are heading and build devices that satisfy them.

3. Software. Plenty of handset makers feel they can get away with using an older version of Android. That may be true for mass-market smartphones, but not for your true flagship device. Sony\'s Xperia TL, its flagship phone for the holidays, finally got Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, at a time when many high-end phones ship with Jelly Bean 4.1, or at least have begun to receive updates.

4. Slick marketing. Even if companies build the most spec-ed out phone with the latest software it could still be a flop without the robust marketing support. Just look at HTC, whose One X was critically praised but still not successful enough to turn its dampening financial prospects around.

5. Support from carriers. Ultimately, carrier support can make or break a product. If a carrier decides to position one smartphone as its flagship product, chances are it will do well. Basically, that means the handset manufacturer has to kowtow to their demands while coming up with a standout product in hopes of getting full carrier support, both in the form of marketing support, as well as sales support in its stores. While retailers are slowly becoming a source for smartphone sales, a majority of consumers still shop in the carrier stores.

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