The sole owner of Starkey Labs, Bill Austin, has just finished another annual gala event FUNDRAISER for the STARKEY FOUNDATION whereby VENDORS to STARKEY LABS,( the largest privately held HEARING AID MANUFACTURER in the WORLD, the others are PUBLICLY HELD ORGANIZATIONS,) and others, including STARKEY CUSTOMERS, buy tickets to a STAR STUDDED PARTY with many CELEBRITIES invited and performing, including JAY LENO as the MASTER OF CEREMONIES.( I JUST NOTICED WHAT THE LAST SIX LETTERS OF THAT WORD SPELLED).
The event this year raised over FOUR MILLION DOLLARS, which after expenses of producing the show, will be used to BUY HEARING AIDS FROM STARKEY LABS to distribute to needy People throughout the World, at the selection of Bill Austin.
A beautiful brochure covering the event was mailed to every Hearing Aid Dispenser in the United States with PICTURES of those attending.
For me, the most important picture, was one of MR.& MRS. BRAD ANDERSON, CEO OF BEST BUY.
This picture, which demonstrates a personal relationship with BILL AUSTIN, confirmes the rumnor that BEST BUY has an interest of getting into the HEARING AID BUSINESS of selling Hearing Aids.
With the development and adaptation of Digital Signal Processing in the manufacturing of Hearing Aids, especially in the area of PROGRAMMING & FEEDBACK MANAGEMENT, and the PROMOTION & ACCEPTANCE of PRODUCT DESIGN CALLED OPEN FITTING AND BEHIND THE EAR HEARING AIDS, and the use of a REMOTE CONTROL, hearing aid products are perfectly conducive to being sold over the counter in retail stores such as BEST BUY.
The installed Micro-processor could have 20 or 30 program selections including volume control, and with the use of a remote control, either hand held or in the form of a watch or other piece of jewelry, the amplification could be selected based on the preferences of the USER.
The Hearing Aid Devices ,since they are mass produced if not custom made with a shell, and the BTE (behind-the-ear) models aren't, can be manufactured in low labor cost Countries such as CHINA, (SIEMENS,REXTON,& ELECTONE are currently buying products made in SINGAPORE).
THE HEARING AIDS AND REMOTES CAN BOTH BE PRODUCED IN CHINA.
All the Components necessary, can be packaged along with an assortment of various open-fit or dome type ear pieces, now used in conjunction with the hearing aids and universal in design, so there is no need to involve HEARING AID DISPENSERS.
EVERYTHING NECESSARY TO THE USE OF THE HEARING AIDS COTAINED IN A KIT.
The entire package could probably be purchased from CHINA for less than $50.00 American money.
BRAD ANDERSON, CEO OF BEST BUY, UNDERSTANDS THE ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY.
BEST BUY DOMINATES THE ELECTRONICS RETAIL MARKET HAVING ABOUT 17 PERCENT OF THE ENTIRE MARKET IN THE UNITED STATES.
BRAD ANDERSON has a history and a reputation of being a GAMBLER on new markets and products and business CONCEPTS.
I'm sure he didn't mingle with BILL AUSTIN to get a set of free hearing aids.
The introduction of hearing aids available at less than $500.00 (about the same price as the iPhone) at BEST BUY would ignite the demand for less expensive distribution practices of hearing aids.
Currently, the Hearing Aid Manufacturers are charging Hearing Aid Dispensers from $300 to $1,500 for Digital Hearing Aids.
The Hearing Aid Dispensers are selling them for up to $6,000 each and especially charging high prices to 3rd Pary Pay Providers, such as Unions,Employers,Governments,etc.
The PROFITS available to the Dispensers is amazing, and thats why even Medical Doctors are selling them. Actually selling them and fitting them by themselves, not including glorified Hearing Aid Dispensers know as Audiologists, because they don't want to share the profit.
I believe this will all end, or at least be greatly affected if BEST BUY or some other GIANT BIG BOX RETAILERS enter the business.
An interesting analogy is that while Hearing Aids are provided FREE in Great Britain and Canada, and I am sure elsewhere, by the Government (other taxpayers) there are still a minority of Hearing Aid Users willing and able to buy them on the open market because of selection and service.
Maybe thats the future in the United States.
Buy when the choice is to pay from $200 to $500 for Hearing Aids from BEST BUY, CIRCUIT CITY, K-MART, WAL-MART, SAMS CLUB, ETC, as opposed to $1,500 to $6,000 EACH from a Hearing Aid Dispenser, GUESS WHO WINS/
Its going to be an interesting next 5 years in the Hearing Aid Business.