Leaving the smartphone ambition aside, Symphony is now more focused on low-end feature phones, a segment that is growing fast in Bangladesh unlike in other markets
When the local mobile market began to heat up with smartphones showing up in the young people's hands, local mobile manufacturers also tried to get on the bandwagon. They launched smartphones too, thinking this would be a lucrative business.
Few years down the line, they had a hard realization - the world of smartphones is elusive and transient with swift change of technologies that are not cheap to acquire. And if companies cannot keep popping up new phones, buyers will look elsewhere - at the international brands that spend heftily on research and development.
Symphony, the market leader in mobile phone market, has also gone through this transition, but at a high cost.
In the last two years, it has seen a drastic fall in its market share from as high as 60 percent in 2016 to 21 percent now. While global brands like Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo rule high with latest technologies, Symphony had to rethink its strategy.
Leaving the smartphone ambition aside, it is now more focused on low-end feature phones, a segment that is growing fast in Bangladesh unlike in other markets.
Why this segment is growing is altogether an interesting story and very much linked to Bangladesh's poverty reduction strategy.
The market for both smartphones and feature phones has been growing at a steady 2 to 3 percent rate in Bangladesh. The ratio of smart phones to feature phones has remained unchanged at 30:70 for the last four years, unlike in other developing countries. In India the ratio is 50:50.
Why the demand for feature phones is still growing has to do with the poorest of society graduating to poor and starting to use feature phones, said a senior executive of Symphony.
For instance, rickshaw pullers, housemaids and farmers are using feature phones.
And the industry thinks the use of feature phones will keep growing in the next five years at a steady 2 to 3 percent rate.
And with this in mind, Symphony's manufacturing company Edison now wants to hold on to its bottom line. Its revenue has shrunk quite a bit to about Tk1,200 crore from as high of over Tk1,700 crore.
It is still the leading phone seller followed by Itel, a Chinese smart phone, who holds a 15 percent share. Samsung holds third place with a 6 percent share.
Another local mobile brand, Walton, is in fourth position with a 6 percent market share, according to the annual report of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA).
The significant fall in revenue has prompted Symphony to go for a price cut and change in business strategy in order to retain its leadership position at 23 percent of the market.
Symphony was selling smartphones in the range of between Tk20,000 and Tk25,000 between 2015 and 2016. But now, its highest priced phones are at Tk 15,000. This is to catch the first users of smartphones.
But its bulk business will come from feature phones where there is no competition from global brands.
Established in 2005, Edison Group went into the mobile phone business with the Symphony brand in 2008.
Symphony emerged as the fastest growing mobile handset brand in Bangladesh at the end of 2008. Symphony took the market share of Nokia and became the market leader in the handset segment in 2010. At present, Symphony has 600 people on its staff.