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iRobot and Amazon: The bid for market supremacy

By Max Burkhalter
October 5, 2022

Amazon has made a move to acquire iRobot, makers of the intelligent robot vacuum Roomba. Recent developments have seen Democrats petition the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to oppose the purchase on the grounds that Amazon's available resources would essentially eliminate the viability of competitors in the marketplace.

This article will examine what the ripple effect of this acquisition — or its potential failure — could mean for the future of connected device technology in the home.

Cleaning house

Yahoo News reports that Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and House Representatives including Katie Porter, Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal, are behind the suggested interjection, noting that Amazon has a history of acquiring competitors in targeted verticals, only to eliminate them.

The report cites Amazon's purchase of Kiva Systems' robots in 2012, a move that resulted in the robots being exclusively repurposed for use in the distribution giant's warehouses. Similar acquisitions of now-household names such as Ring helped Amazon corner the US video doorbell market.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Amazon has also faced multiple accusations of abusing third-party seller data to launch rival products and create promotion hierarchies. The US Congress and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have questioned these business practices in the past. The company has denied using seller data to champion competing products and launched an internal investigation in response to the claims. The results of their findings were not shared with Congress.

Big business

First reported in August by outlets such as TechCrunch, Amazon seeks to purchase iRobot for an all-cash deal of $1.7 billion. The proposed move is part of an increasing investment into the robotics and connected technology fields.

As iRobot CEO Colin Angle famously told TechCrunch, The home of the future is a robot. And the vacuum cleaners and the other devices are hands and eyes and appendages of the home robot. Ultimately, this smart home of the future isn't controlled by your cell phone. If you have 200 devices, you're not going to turn them on by pulling out your cell phone. We need a home that programs itself, and you just live in your home, and the home does the right thing based on understanding what's going on."

Automation pending investigation

Amazon's acquisition of Ring has come under scrutiny because the doorbell possibly collects data recorded from its network of devices, according to reports from outlets such as MakeUseOf (MUO). Combined with the pending FTC investigation into the purchase of iRobot, there are barriers to the future of home Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.

Should the acquisition be successfully completed, the deal would rank amongst Amazon's largest, showcasing a commitment to a connected, automated future for home technology. A full decade after the Kiva deal, Amazon Robotics is the unquestioned leader in warehouse and fulfillment robotics. The purchase of iRobot could easily see the tech giant do the same for home robotics, ushering in an era of continuous innovation and automation for homeowners around the world.

Perle powers future tech

Perle Systems proudly partners with leaders in IoT innovation by providing device networking, media conversion and IoT solutions. To learn more about how Perle tech is aiding network-enabled connectivity across a variety of verticals, visit our industry solutions page.


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