Amazon is making another significant acquisition of vacuum maker iRobot that will position it as a major player in the growing smart home business. The retail behemoth has just announced plans to acquire iRobot, the maker of the popular Roomba line of robot vacuums.
iRobot’s circular-shaped Roomba vacuum would join Alexa, the Astro robot, and Ring security cameras in the list of smart home features offered by the Seattle-based e-commerce and tech behemoth.
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, says Amazon wants to own part of the home space through services and extend beyond retail. A spate of home-cleaning robots expands the company’s tech arsenal beyond voice control.
Amazon’s Astro robot costs $1,000 and can set an alarm. Its deployment has been limited and underwhelming.
Amazon hasn’t had much success with household robots, but the iRobot acquisition and the company’s strong market reputation could help Amazon recreate the success of its Echo smart speakers, said ABI Research analyst Lian Jye Su. Su said it also shows the weaknesses of consumer robotics providers like iRobot, which struggled to develop beyond a niche product and competed with Korean and Chinese manufacturers producing cheaper robotic vacuums.
Moreover iRobot released quarterly earnings Friday. Revenue fell 30% due to order cancellations and delays, and the company announced layoffs. Amazon will buy iRobot for $61 per share in an all-cash deal that includes debt. As of July 2, the corporation owed $332,1 million. Shareholders and regulators must approve the deal. Colin Angle, iRobot’s CEO, will continue afterward.
Su said the acquisition might lead to more Amazon speech recognition and other features in vacuums, since iRobot has ran its robotics platform on AWS for years. iRobot shares jumped 19% noon. Amazon fell 1.4%.
Amazon will buy iRobot for $1.7 billion cash. The acquisition isn’t final unless shareholders and regulators approve it. Amazon hasn’t announced a closing date. If it happens, Colin Angle will remain iRobot’s CEO. Amazon’s latest smart home acquisition. It bought Blink in 2017 and Ring in 2018.