Best Buy announced late yesterday that it has acquired GreatCall, the company behind the JitterBug phone for seniors, for $800 million. The company currently focuses primarily on its emergency response service that has over 900,000 paying subscribers. The service is accessible through a range of connected devices and wearables, like the Jitterbug, which include a button that’s preprogrammed to dial GreatCall’s emergency assistance hotline.
In its release, Best Buy notes that the acquisition is a “manifestation of the Best Buy 2020 strategy to enrich lives through technology by addressing key human needs.” In plain speak, it seems the deal builds on Best Buy’s continued efforts to sell services as opposed to just gadgets.
Earlier this year, it revamped its tech subscriptions service, turning it into a $200 per year feature called Total Tech Support. That fee offers subscribers 24/7 tech support over the phone or online, for most tech products in the home (even if they weren’t purchased from Best Buy). Subscribers can also go into Best Buy stores to receive help with basic tech support asks, like transferring data between computers or removing a virus.
Clearly, gadget margins are thin, and people are increasingly shopping at Amazon or through manufacturers, like Samsung, directly. The increasing focus on services could keep the once-prolific tech giant afloat.