Amazon to Buy Roomba Maker iRobot for Roughly $1.7B

NEW YORK — Amazon on Friday announced it has agreed to acquire the vacuum cleaner maker iRobot for approximately $1.7 billion, scooping up another company to add to its collection of smart home appliances amid broader concerns about its market power.

iRobot sells its products worldwide and is most famous for the circular-shaped Roomba vacuum, which would join voice assistant Alexa, the Astro robot and Ring security cameras and others in the list of smart home features offered by the Seattle-based e-commerce and tech giant.

The move is part of Amazon’s bid to own part of the home space through services and accelerate its growth beyond retail, said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. A slew of home-cleaning robots adds to the company’s tech arsenal, making it more involved in consumer’s lives beyond static things like voice control.
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Amazon’s Astro robot, which helps with tasks like setting an alarm, was unveiled last year at an introductory price of $1,000. But its rollout has been limited and has received a lackluster response.

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Amazon hasn’t had much success with household robots, but the iRobot acquisition and the company’s strong market reputation provide a “massive foothold in the consumer robot market” that could help Amazon replicate the success of its Echo line of smart speakers, said Lian Jye Su, a robotics industry analyst for ABI Research.

Su said it also illustrates the shortcomings of consumer robotics vendors like iRobot, which struggled to expand beyond a niche product and was in a “race-to-the-bottom” competition with Korean and Chinese manufacturers offering cheaper versions of a robotic vacuum.

On Friday, iRobot reported its quarterly results. Revenue plunged 30% primarily on order reductions and delays, and the company announced it was laying off 10% of its workforce.

Amazon said it …read more

Source:: Time – Technology

      

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