- Sony has entered the nascent over-the-counter hearing aid market, forming a partnership with WS Audiology (WSA) to jointly develop and supply products for sale in the U.S.
- Last month, the Food and Drug Administration opened the door to OTC sales starting in mid-October by publishing a final rule. One hearing aid maker had valued the market at $8 billion in 2019.
- Sony is now set to compete for a slice of the sales by combining its brand, audio capabilities and product miniaturization technologies with WSA’s hearing aid expertise.
Five years after the passage of a law requiring the FDA to create an OTC hearing aid category, and following pressure from lawmakers and a proposed rule that attracted more than 1,000 comments, the U.S. is now on the cusp of a change in how adults with mild or moderate hearing loss access devices.
Sony, a leading provider of wireless earphones, has identified the regulatory change as a chance to use its brand and audio technology to add a new growth driver to its portfolio. Lacking capabilities specific to hearing aids, the Japanese tech company has entered into a deal with WSA, a Danish manufacturer of the medical audiology devices.
The partners are now developing a product that will initially be sold in the U.S. At this stage, key details about the product, including its price and target launch date, are unknown publicly. The partners plan to share details closer to the launch date.
Sony will enter a market once targeted by its earphone rival Bose, which made a play for the hearing aid space only to decide to stop making its device and partner with Lexie Hearing. Consumer tech companies with an interest in the space will go up against specialist hearing aid businesses as devices go on sale at supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail outlets including Best Buy.