The long vaunted merger of Widex and Sivantos is finally completed. Jointly, the business is now the third largest player in the hearing aid sphere. But what will that mean for consumers? What can we expect to happen and what benefits might it drive? Those are interesting questions, but to answer them, we need to look at the background of both businesses and their outlooks. Let's talk about WS Audiology.
Sivantos, Capable of Anything!
I like Sivantos a lot, mainly because they don't have a lot of history within the hearing aid world. Yes, they purchased Siemens and yes, many within the company are industry veterans. But I never felt that it stopped the business being capable of great innovation, the innovation and change that only outsiders can bring to any industry.
Within the greater industry, Sivantos are seen as a little crazy, but I like that a lot. Apparently, I am renowned for being a little eccentric myself, who knew? I and many analysts within the industry have always seen them as wildcards. I am not sure if any other business would have been brave enough to deliver the Styletto. I mean it is a completely new concept in hearing aid design. Since the takeover of the Siemens business, they have shaken it up across the world, securing existing business and driving new business.
They have also taken on some of what you would call movers and shakers within the industry to drive the business forward and secure new business. Outside of the business side, they have now delivered two outstanding hearing aid platforms since the takeover, they have also delivered Own Voice Processing which could have huge benefits for hearing aid users, and betted heavily on Bluetooth enabled hearing devices to move forward.
For me, this makes complete sense and they are just one of many manufacturers doing so. They were the very first to show signs of understanding that the connection to a mobile phone could offer so much more than just streaming when they connected movement to how the directional microphones would work and I look forward to seeing how that plays out.
Widex, A Renowned Maverick
Widex has been renowned as a maverick from the beginning. While most hearing aid brands were simply sales businesses that sell hearing aids. Widex was always a company of engineers who happened to sell hearing aids. There is a real difference to that and I am proud that I once worked there during that time. Widex has changed, it has been forced to be a more grown-up corporation, and while that has taken some of the shine of the business for me, I understand why it was necessary.
The change towards a more typical corporation could have changed Widex into just another bland company churning out fairly decent products. But, it didn't, much to the joy of many ex Widex people. They still deliver on pretty interesting innovation as the Unique and then the Evoke platforms have shown. They are the first into machine learning and they are already using the benefits of it to make their user's lives better.
What Happens Next?
From a business perspective, I think there will be organisational changes across the world. Business units will be merged on a case by case basis I would imagine. Sivantos business units being merged into Widex Business units where it makes sense and the opposite happening where it makes sense. None of that should or would affect consumers though. The brands will remain separate, I believe there will always be a Widex brand, just as there will probably always be a Signia brand.
I think the fruits of the separate R&D departments will lead to even greater innovation from both brands. Great people work better when they work with great people with different views and experience. I think that Sivantos R&D has a lot to learn from Widex and Widex R&D has a lot to learn from Sivantos.
I think the brands will follow their own course for at least a couple of years before the ranges become more homogenous. However, I would not fear that and I think it will just make the hearing aids themselves better. As consumers, we have to see that as a good thing. Like us on Facebook by clicking the link below, I promise not to send you pictures of damned cats.