Amazon acquires iRobot, the specialist in robot vacuum cleaners

In early August 2022, news shook the home automation sector. Amazon has announced the acquisition of the company iRobot, the origin of the famous Roomba robot vacuum cleaners. For 1.7 billion dollars, Amazon gets its hands on one of the leaders in robotics. What consequences for competition in the future? What about consumer data?


iRobot: an important acquisition for Amazon

As vacationers enjoy their summer, Amazon continues to expand its grip on the connected technology market. At the beginning of August 2022, the e-commerce giant announced the acquisition of iRobot for $1.7 billion.

© iRobot

The company specializing in the latest generation vacuum cleanersand particularly famous for its Roomba robot vacuum, is a nice catch for Amazon: “ iRobot has always been able to make life easier for its customers with innovative cleaning products for the home, details the American giant in its press release. iRobot has continued to innovate with each product generation, solving tough problems to help customers regain valuable time in their day. “. For the moment, no change of direction planned following this acquisition, since the current general manager of iRobot, Colin Angle, remains at the head of the company.

The acquisition of iRobot by Amazon is significant. Among all those made since its creation, this is the fourth most important.

The home automation market has been undergoing considerable transformation for several months. While the unified Matter protocol is on track to be integrated into the core of many brands’ products next fall, Chinese companies are entering this market with equipment at very attractive prices. These are upsetting the status quo, creating a new dynamic for the home automation sector and a lot of uncertainty.

Who is iRobot?Founded in 1990, the iRobot company began to market its famous robot vacuum cleaners in 2002, launching its famous Roomba. This product will make her the pioneer of domestic robotics. Since then, iRobot has greatly extended its offer and diversified its products. Even today, the company remains the leader in its market and dominates sales.

Acquisition of iRobot: Amazon’s monopoly in question

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© iRobot

The latest financial results of iRobot not being really good, this acquisition is timely. With the means of Amazon, new business opportunities open up for the company.

In the future, it is also not impossible that iRobot products will be added to Amazon’s already vast home automation range.

The interest of tech companies for robotics is not new, this representing one of the biggest trends in home automation for the next few years.

In 2021, Amazon launched its first domestic robot: Astro. Kind of smart display interactive on wheels, Astro embeds Alexa and numerous surveillance, security and standby features.

If the acquisition of iRobot by Amazon seems in line with the giant’s strategy to impose itself on each sector of the home automation market, it has been the subject of several observations. First of all regarding the power and dominance of Amazon, whose quasi-monopoly never ceases to question. With iRobot, Amazon continues to strengthen its grip, and some wonder how much real competition will be possible in the connected home market.

From Eero to Blink via Ring, Amazon’s acquisitions in recent years reveal a concrete strategy for the development of its home automation offer.

In addition to the problem of monopolies in tech, many observers highlight issues related to respect for privacy. Roomba robot vacuum cleaners incorporate sensors to intelligently map space to clean up without your intervention. Concretely, these new data will be in the hands ofAmazon, which will have access to the plans of the homes of some of its customers.

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© iRobot

Still today, the management of data by manufacturers of connected objects is the subject of concern, despite statements intended to be reassuring on the subject. In 2017, the CEO of iRobot suggested that the company might one day share user data with tech companies specializing in home automation. Nevertheless, during an interview granted to zdnet.fr the same year, Colin Angle had clarified the situation: […] iRobot will never sell your data. Our mission is to help you keep a cleaner home, and ultimately help the smart home and the devices in it work better. »

For Evan Greer, director of the digital rights NGO Fight for the Future, we should not be mistaken about Amazon’s intentions: ” People tend to think of Amazon as an online retail company, but in reality, Amazon is a surveillance company. It’s the core of its business model, and it’s what fuels its monopoly power and profits. “. He pursues : ” Amazon wants to have its hands everywhere, and acquiring a company that’s basically built on mapping the insides of people’s homes seems like a big deal.a natural extension of the surveillance scope that Amazon already has “.

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