Hey Alexa, tell Roomba to vacuum the bedroom.
Amazon announced on Friday that it reached an agreement to buy iRobot Corp., maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, for $1.7 billion, adding to its growing range of smart home products.
“We know that saving time is important, and chores take up valuable time that could be better spent on something customers love,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, in a statement announcing the acquisition.
Amazon will acquire iRobot, including its debt, for $61 per share in a cash transaction, according to the statement. The purchase would be Amazon’s fourth-largest acquisition after the company bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017 and the movie studio MGM for $8.5 billion last year. Last month, Amazon announced a foray into medical services with an agreement to Spend $3.9 Billion to Acquire One Medicala chain of primary care clinics in the United States.
Roomba and iRobot’s other cleaning devices, including robot mops and air purifiers, join a portfolio of smart home devices from Amazon, including Ring doorbells and Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant and speaker. iRobot also makes an educational robot called Root that allows kids to experiment with coding.
Roomba first hit dirty floors in 2002, much to the delight of lazy people and the bewilderment of pets, especially cats. The New York Times described it as “easy, effective and fun” and a product that quickly became “a member of the household”.
The early $200 version struggled around corners and chair legs, even falling down the stairs. But 20 years later, according to the company, the Roomba j7 can recognize more than 80 common objects (including cords and pet waste), returns to its dock once its tasks are completed, and then empties itself. The most expensive option sells for $999.99.
While iRobot is best known for its roaming cleaning equipment, the technology that powers these tools also soaks up a wealth of spatial data used to map users’ homes. Some digital rights groups have expressed their concern that this data can help companies like Amazon find information about the size of houses and even their contents, right down to the brand.
iRobot reported revenue of $255.4 million in the second quarter of 2022, down 30 percent from the prior year. Amazon reported second-quarter revenue of $121.2 billion, up 7.2 percent from a year earlier but slightly lower than 7.3 percent it reported sales growth in the first quarter of this year. It was Amazon’s slowest growth in more than two decades after the company began to deal with its high pandemic demands.