Juxtaposition. The word means two things that generally don’t belong together being placed side by side for effect. The world saw just such an event with the release of the streaming bluetooth hearing aid by GN Store last year. Hearing aids are not generally thought of as needing streaming capabilities, but a new generation of hearing aid users is looking for new devices to listen and talk on their smart phones. Now other companies are trying to get in on the market.
Hearing aids for those with hearing loss are like glasses to individuals with poor vision. Hearing aids are particularly useful for improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss due to damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, as the result of disease, accident or exposure to loud noises.
A report titled ”Global Hearing Aid Market (2017-2021 Edition)” predicts that Europe is expect to account for the largest share in the market during the forecasted period. It also expects Asia Pacific to be the emerging region for hearing aid devices in the coming five years. The most prominent players of the market according to the report are Sonova Holdings AG, William Demant Holding Group and GN Store.
Sonova of Switzerland is the second largest retailer with around 7 percent after ‘Amplify’ which covers over 9 percent of the market. Sonova on Thursday released a new bluetooth hearing aid which is capable of streaming audio from wireless devices. This is being seen by many market observers as a step towards closing the gap with the Danish company GN Store that launched this technology years ago.
In 2014 GN Store had introduced a bluetooth hearing aid for Apple devices which won it a large segment of the consumer market. The device allows users to listen to music and also answer calls, which can be very difficult for traditional hearing id users. Sonova aims to compete for that market with direct streaming chip that will not just run on Apple devices but also other Bluetooth-equipped devices. The company is hoping to take over the substantial Android-based market with its humongous user base of 1.4 billion active devices worldwide.
This move by Sonova is expected to garner substantial sales for the company’s bluetooth hearing aid devices and the windfall has already begun with a 3.2% rise in the share of Sonova. Its rival Gn Store Nord ’s shares have risen by 7.5 percent after second quarter profit topped forecasts. They had entered the 2.4 GHz technology chip market back in 2010 when most of the other competitors had mocked their decision.
Vindicated by their profit margins and the move by Sonova to enter the 2.4GHz market the GN Store CEO Anders Hedegaard has argued that “It has taken them seven years to enter this market. Going forward we will focus on selling our product, which is going very well at the moment.”
Most analysts have predicted that although Sonova may garner higher sales there would not be a rush for the latest gadgets. Most of the wearers typically retain their hearing aid for at least five years or until they break. The majority of the patients are in their 70’s and would not want to make a jump simply because they want the hearing aids to stream music from their phones.
Sonova’s marketing head Thomas Lang commented that the latest launch by Sonova was meant to reach younger customers who usually spend about 3 hours daily with their smartphones. It may seem like a juxstaposition, but it is this market that may well see a substantial demand increase for bluetooth hearing aids, and the race is on to capitalize on the aging tech generation.
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