Technology

Amazon seizes $1.7 billion Roomba vacuum cleaners

Amazon is busting the bank to shore up its connected home division. The e-commerce giant announced on Friday, August 5, 2022, the acquisition of iRobot, the company behind the iconic Roomba standalone vacuum cleaners. The amount of this acquisition is 1.7 billion dollars.

iRobot in trouble

iRobot has become a household name since the launch of its first standalone vacuum cleaner, Roomba, in 2002. The company offers robotic products for home maintenance. “Since we launched iRobot, our team has set itself the task of creating innovative and practical products that make life easier for customers, which has led to inventions such as Roomba and the iRobot OS,” summarizes Colin Angle, President and CEO of iRobot , in your statement. .

But iRobot has run into difficulties due to the health crisis. In an effort to cut costs, the company laid off 70 people in 2020, mostly on its R&D teams, and dropped marketing of the Terra robotic lawnmower. The difficulties continue today as iRobot’s turnover fell 30% in the second quarter. In an inflationary environment, consumers are rethinking their priorities and limiting their spending. Demand for Roomba robots has declined in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Amazon Strengthens Connected Homes Division

The acquisition is because Amazon has a Connected Home division with its flagship product, the Alexa voice assistant. Amazon also plans to bring home robots to market. A lot of rumors swirled around the inner robot until the e-commerce giant introduced Astro. This robot, designed as an assistant and “patrolman”, has two wheels and a screen. It can move independently and detect intruders with its facial recognition tool. But the Astro would have encountered some difficulties in moving and would not have been reliable enough.

By acquiring a well-known brand, Amazon is strengthening this division, which also sells smart thermostats and security devices. In addition to sucking up dirt, Roomba vacuums collect spatial data about homes that can be useful for the development of other home technologies.

Other acquisitions may follow. Amazon recently acquired One Medial in healthcare. During this period when the macroeconomic context is uncertain, tech companies can take advantage of this to make acquisitions at attractive prices. In general, during a crisis, companies that have money can come out of it stronger.

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