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 robot vacuum, for $1.7 billion, adding to its growing list of smart home products.
“We know that saving time matters, and household chores take up valuable time that could be better spent doing things that customers enjoy,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, in a statement about the acquisition.
According to the statement, Amazon will acquire iRobot, including its debt, for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction. The purchase would be Amazon’s fourth-largest 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 its foray into healthcare with an agreement to spend $3.9 billion to acquire One Medical, a chain of primary care clinics in the United States.
Other Roomba and iRobot cleaning devices, including robotic mops and air purifiers, join Amazon’s portfolio of smart home devices, which includes the Ring doorbell and Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant and speaker. iRobot is also building an educational robot called Root that lets kids experiment with coding.
The Roomba first hit the dirty floor in 2002, to the delight of lazy people and the consternation of pets, especially cats. The New York Times called it “easy, efficient and fun” and a product that quickly became “a member of the family.”
The early $200 version fought for corners and chair legs, even falling down stairs. But after 20 years, the Roomba j7 can, the company says, recognize more than 80 common objects (including cords and pet waste), return to its dock when it’s done, and then empty itself. The most expensive variant retails for $999.99.
While iRobot is best known for its mobile cleaning equipment, the technology that powers these tools also siphons a lot of spatial data that is used to map users’ homes. Some digital rights groups have expressed concern that the data could help companies like Amazon learn about the size of homes and even their contents, down to the brand.
iRobot’s revenue was $255.4 million in the second quarter of 2022, down 30 percent from a year earlier. Amazon reported revenue of $121.2 billion in the second quarter, up 7.2 percent from a year earlier, but slightly below the 7.3 percent revenue growth reported in the first quarter of this year. It was Amazon’s slowest growth in more than two decades after the company began to retreat from the high demands of the pandemic.