Recently, Amazon announced a record-breaking deal to pay $1.7 billion to acquire the home robotics startup iRobot.
Amazon claims that it intends to assist customers with household tasks like vacuuming. After purchasing the healthcare company One Medical last month for $3.9 billion, the movie studio MGM in 2021 for $8.45 billion, and the grocery store chain Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, the upcoming acquisition would rank as Amazon’s fourth-largest ever.
The major manufacturer of consumer robotics is iRobot. iRobot, which is best known for its robotic vacuum Roomba, has subsequently expanded its product line to include other robotic cleaners for the house, including mops and lawn mowers.
The business primarily produces Roomba vacuum cleaners and robo-mops, and it is also attempting to launch a robo-mower device. Robots are nothing new to Amazon; the corporation even has a whole “Amazon Robotics” section that concentrates on the logistics work done in Amazon warehouses.
Amazon acquired the warehouse robotics business Kiva Systems in 2012 and Canvas Technology in 2019. It also just introduced “Proteus,” a robot that resembles an industrial-strength Roomba, as its first “fully autonomous” robot. To bring an inventory cart off the ground for delivery, the unit drives under it and raises it a few inches rather than vacuuming.
With the sort of commercial introduction of the home robot “Astro,” which is effectively an Alexa/camera/tablet on wheels and can travel around the house, Amazon has also recently dipped its toes into iRobot’s territory. However, as sales are only by invitation, it is more akin to an experiment than a significant consumer launch.
Although Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices, claims that tasks take up valuable time that might be better spent doing something that consumers enjoy, Amazon makes no mention of the tiny house robot in their press statement. With products that are incredibly useful and innovative, the iRobot team has demonstrated over many years its capacity to reinvent how people clean. These products range from cleaning when and where customers want while avoiding common obstacles in the home to automatically emptying the collection bin.
According to the press statement, iRobot CEO Colin Angle will continue to lead the company, and the transaction is pending regulatory approval.
The second quarter’s revenue of $255.4 million fell far short of the $303 million analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had predicted. Its adjusted losses per share increased to 35 cents. Refinitiv’s analysts had predicted a loss of $1.55 per share. Although, iRobot announced it would lay off 140 workers, or 10% of its workforce, due to growing expenses and declining sales.
The agreement will strengthen Amazon’s position in consumer robotics. When it debuted the $1,449.99 Astro home robot last year, Amazon put a big bet on the market. The device has Alexa built in and can follow users about their homes.