Electronics giant Best Buy acquires personal response service, GreatCall for $800mn
Electronics business Best Buy has revealed its recent move to acquire personal emergency response services provider, GreatCall, for a staggering $800mn in cash, in a bid to strengthen its position in the growing ageing market. The acquisition will be the company’s first since Joly became CEO in 2012.
Unlike many companies which are targeting millennials, Best Buy will seek to provide connected health products and solutions for older US citizens. At present, GreatCall has over 900,000 paying subscribers, supporting consumers to stay independent longer and providing peace of mind to family caregivers.
Introducing technologies which will also reduce escalating healthcare costs, the decision forms part of Best Buy’s 2020 strategy. By providing health and wellness related products, it will bring on board GreatCall’s connected devices, such as medical-alert devices and bespoke mobile technologies to support those to receive help when required by contacting agents and care givers and much more.
Today, there are approximately 50mn Americans citizens over age 65, a number that is expected to increase by more than 50% within the next 20 years, fuelling Best Buy’s further growth in consumer and commercial markets.
- Best Buy is set to enter the healthcare space
- Making the Best Use of Patient Data for Effective Diagnosis
- Oscar looks to tap into the MA market, following its $375mn investment from Alphabet
Complementing Best Buy’s growing portfolio, the acquisition will also support the company’s new pilot service, Assured Living, which utilises digital tools to support users to check the health and safety of elderly parents.
“We are excited to partner with Best Buy to serve the active aging population on a bigger scale. GreatCall is already a growing, profitable business with annual revenue in excess of $300mn,” explained David Inns, CEO of GreatCall.
“By joining forces, we can do even more for this population, combining our products, services and expertise with Best Buy’s customer focus and scale to meaningfully expand our reach.”
“We know technology can improve the quality of life of the aging population and those who care for them,” added Hubert Joly, chairman and CEO of Best Buy. “Now, we have a great opportunity to serve the needs of these customers by combining GreatCall’s expertise with Best Buy’s unique merchandising, marketing, sales and services capabilities.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of Best Buy's fiscal 2019 third quarter.
Advances in health "must ensure self-sovereign identity"
The UK government has announced that from September onwards COVID-19 vaccine passports will be necessary to gain entry into places with large crowds, such as nightclubs.
This has reignited the debate between those who believe having proof of vaccinations will enable people to gather in public places and travel safely, and those who view the digital certificates as an attack on personal freedom.
The arguments have increased in intensity since the recent announcement to drop COVID-19 restrictions in England, in a move to reopen the economy that has attracted fierce criticism both domestically and overseas.
Cross-party ministers are set to defy the government’s latest plans to introduce vaccine passports over civil liberties concerns. A number of MPs have already signed the Big Brother Watch declaration against “Covid status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs” in recent months.
However Mark Shaw, CEO of Tento Applied Sciences, says the Big Brother Watch campaign is based on false assumptions. “Big Brother Watch puts forward a compelling argument based around civil liberties, but some of the assumptions they make are simply incorrect” he says.
“For example, the BBW campaign claims that all Covid passes are discriminatory, counterproductive and would lead to British citizens having to share personal health information with anyone in authority, from bouncers to bosses. However, there are already privacy-first digital wallets that give individuals the freedom to store and share anonymised medical documents, work credentials and other types of documentation quickly, simply, and securely.
“I wholeheartedly agree that individuals should not be required to share their own personal health information with unknown third parties or with anyone in authority who demands it" Shaw adds. "But I strongly disagree with the suggestion that ‘events and businesses are either safe to open for everyone, or no one’. It creates a false dichotomy that either everyone is safe, or nobody is safe. If employers or event organisers don’t take action to properly manage workplace or venue safety, then they risk curtailing the safety and freedom of movement for the majority."
The subject of personal health data is under scrutiny in the UK at the moment, following controversial plans for the NHS to share patient data with third parties. These have been put on hold following public criticism.
Meanwhile a new report has found that the majority of the British public is willing to embrace digital healthcare tools such as apps and digital therapies prescribed by a trusted healthcare professional.
Shaw adds: “The vital point to make is this: innovations in health technology must ensure self-sovereign identity. This means the data held about an individual is owned by the individual and stored on their device. And, in the case of medical data, that data can be delivered from healthcare professionals to the device in an encrypted format, and the user chooses how they share their information."