Hey, Alexa, tell Roomba to vacuum the bedroom.
Amazon announced Friday that it has reached an agreement to buy iRobot Corp., maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, for $1.7 billion, adding to its growing list of smart home products.
“We know that saving time is important and that household chores take up valuable time that can be better spent doing something customers love,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, said in a statement. announcing the acquisition.
Amazon will acquire iRobot, including its debt, for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction, according to the release. The purchase would be Amazon’s fourth-biggest acquisition after the company bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017 and 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 Medical, a chain of primary care clinics in the United States.
The Roomba and iRobot’s other cleaning devices, including robot mops and air purifiers, join an Amazon-owned portfolio of smart home devices that includes Ring and Alexa doorbells, the virtual assistant and the top speaker from Amazon. iRobot also makes an educational robot called Root that lets kids experiment with coding.
The Roomba first hit dirty floors in 2002, to the delight of lazy people and the amazement 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 first $200 version thrashed around corners and chair legs, even falling down stairs. But 20 years later, the Roomba j7 can, according to the company, recognize more than 80 everyday objects (including cords and pet waste), returns to its dock when its chores are done and then empties. The most expensive option sells for $999.99.
While iRobot is best known for its traveling cleaning equipment, the technology that powers these tools also sucks up treasure troves of spatial data used to map users’ homes. Some digital rights groups have expressed concern that this data could help companies like Amazon find information on house sizes and even their contents, right down to the brand.
iRobot reported revenue of $255.4 million in the second quarter of 2022, down 30% from the prior year. Amazon reported second-quarter revenue of $121.2 billion, up 7.2% from a year earlier, but down slightly from revenue growth of 7.3% announced in the first quarter of this year. It was Amazon’s slowest growth in more than two decades after the company began to pull back from its heavy pandemic demands.