Best Buy makes big healthcare buy

Best Buy is seeking to connect with older consumers by spending $800 million to acquire a connected-health service provider

Best Buy is seeking to connect with older consumers by spending $800 million to acquire a connected-health service provider

In addition to its Jitterbug phones (which have become much more advanced since they hit the scene in 2006), GreatCall provides devices created to help consumers connect with caregivers, emergency services, and "daily challenges" for brain and body health.

Best Buy has agreed to buy GreatCall, the maker of senior-focused Jitterbug mobile phones, from buyout firm GTCR for a whopping $800m.

The acquisition may not seem like a natural fit for a retailer of TVs and computer gear.

"We know technology can improve the quality of life of the aging population and those who care for them", said Best Buy chairman and CEO Hubert Joly in the press release.

In other words, numerous customers who seek help from Best Buy's Geek Squad are also seniors who have difficulty setting up and maintaining home computers and Internet-connected appliances. "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". GreatCall has a range of services, including a simple, one-touch connection to trained, USA -based agents who can connect the user to family caregivers, provide general concierge services, answer service-related questions and dispatch emergency personnel.

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GreatCall has 900,000 paying subscribers and boasts annual revenue in excess of $300 million. Great Call will maintain its headquarters and its care centers in Carlsbad, Calif., and Reno, Nev.

There are 50 million Americans over age 65, a number that is expected to increase by more than 50 percent within the next 20 years, according to Best Buy.

Best Buy said it would keep GreatCall as an independent subsidiary, with existing CEO David Inns at the helm.

"Since the launch of GreatCall, we've focused on providing the very best technology and services to the aging population", said Inns in prepared remarks.

Best Buy said it expects the acquisition to add to its growth by fiscal 2021.

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