A significant shift in the home robotics industry
Amazon has agreed to buy iRobot, the developer of the Roomba robot vacuums. The acquisition is estimated to be worth $1.7 billion, with Amazon paying $61 per share in cash.
“Customers love iRobot devices, and I’m thrilled to be working with the iRobot team to create ways to make their lives easier and more fun,” says Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices. It’s unclear how iRobot will be merged into Amazon once the acquisition is finalized and approved by authorities, but Amazon plans to keep Colin Angle as iRobot’s CEO.
Since 2002, iRobot has been designing robot vacuums and has sold millions of its popular Roomba vacuums. Earlier this year, iRobot released iRobot OS, an AI-powered platform for its robot vacuums and mops. As the robot cleaning space becomes more competitive, the iRobot OS is intended to differentiate Roomba products from competitors by providing extra software features and capabilities.
While Amazon has not revealed its plans for iRobot, the synergies with its other smart home devices are clear. Last year, Amazon released the $999 Astro smart home robot, which Verge Deputy Editor Dan Seifert described as “the love child of a Roomba and an Echo Show smart display.”
The long-rumored home assistant robot is capable of mapping out floor plans, responding to directions to move between rooms, and even recognizing faces. It can answer queries, play music, and display information such as the weather, just like an Alexa-powered gadget. iRobot’s next operating system isn’t attached to an Alexa on wheels, but it’s just as ambitious, aiming to gain a better understanding of a home through AI and smart features before expanding to other aspects of the smart home.
The combination of Roomba, Alexa, Ring doorbells, and Amazon’s other smart home gadgets provides the firm with an amazing amount of data in a modern smart house. This will undoubtedly raise greater concerns about privacy and Amazon’s dominance in the smart home market.