Amazon is no stranger to blockbuster acquisitions in the smart home market, having scooped up security camera manufacturer Blink in late 2017 and then Ring just a few months later. Now, Amazon has another big smart home name in its sights: iRobot.
Amazon announced Friday that it had agreed to acquire iRobot, maker of the ubiquitous Roomba robot vacuum, for a cool $1.7 billion. The deal is still subject to regulatory approvals as well as the assent of iRobot’s shareholders.
The acquisition would instantly make Amazon the leading manufacturer of robot vacuums, although iRobot’s share of the market has been steadily shrinking in recent years in the face of competition from the likes of Ecovacs, Roborock, and Shark.
The deal would also appear to cement Amazon’s position astride the overall smart home market, with Amazon counting its Alexa-powered Echo speakers and displays, Blink and Ring smart security cameras, and now Roomba robot vacuums among its most prized assets.
“Over many years, the iRobot team has proven its ability to reinvent how people clean with products that are incredibly practical and inventive—from cleaning when and where customers want while avoiding common obstacles in the home, to automatically emptying the collection bin,” said Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices, in a press release announcing the deal. “Customers love iRobot products—and I’m excited to work with the iRobot team to invent in ways that make customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable.”
Over on the iRobot side, chairman and CEO Colin Angle said that Amazon “shares our passion for building thoughtful innovations that empower people to do more at home, and I cannot think of a better place for our team to continue our mission.”
Neither Amazon nor iRobot went into any details about what the acquisition would mean for existing Roomba owners, although it’s unlikely that those of us with Roomba vacs would see any immediate change.
Wireless-enabled Roomba models offer integrations with Alexa competitors such as Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, but it’s almost assured that those integrations will stay put.
Still, one can imagine that Amazon will want to build Alexa integration even deeper into Roomba vacuums, and we may even see some Roomba models arrive with built-in Alexa.
The idea isn’t that far-fetched, given the on-wheels and Alexa-powered Astro robot that Amazon unveiled last September.
Earlier this year, iRobot made a splash with the launch of iRobot OS, a platform designed to help Roomba devices recognize common household objects blocking its path, understand voice commands, offer cleaning suggestions, and avoid pet poo.