Amazon to buy iRobot for $1.66 Billion

Amazon buy iRobot $1.66 Billion
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Amazon to buy iRobot for $1.66 Billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon on Friday announced it has agreed to buy the vacuum cleaner maker iRobot for approximately $1.66 billion, scooping up another company to add to its collection of smart home appliances amid broader concerns from anti-monopoly and privacy advocates about Amazon’s market power and ability to gain deeper insights into consumers’ lives.

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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 consumers’ lives beyond static things like voice control. The latest line of Roombas use sensors to map — and remember — a home’s floor plan, offering a trove of data that Amazon could potentially integrate with its other products.

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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.

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.

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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.

Amazon to buy vacuum maker iRobot for $1.66B  The Associated Press

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