Amazon to purchase Roomba maker iRobot in deal worth $1.7 billion
posted Sunday Aug 7, 2022 by Scott Ertz
One thing that appears to be inevitable in the modern technology world is large acquisitions. Whether it be Microsoft purchasing Activision or Google purchasing Raxium, we know that the big tech companies absolutely love to purchase other companies. This week, the newest addition to the list is iRobot, as Amazon has announced a deal to acquire the Roomba maker in a deal valued at $1.7 billion.
Who is iRobot?
iRobot has had a number of products over the years, but it is most famous for the Roomba. The company created the consumer robotic vacuum industry and has constantly evolved and improved it over the years. For example, when the Roomba first launched, it was mostly a blind robot bumping around in the dark. Today, however, the Roomba is capable of scanning its layout to learn and adapt to its surroundings.
In fact, the modern Roomba likely knows your home as well as you do. This is because it uses a combination of sensors, such as LiDAR, and artificial intelligence in order to create a detailed map of your home. This map identifies permanent items, such as walls and cabinets, and temporary items, such as tables and chairs. The map allows the Roomba to know what parts of the home have been cleaned and which have not, as well as to allow you to clean just a single room.
iRobot and Amazon
This detailed map of your home is where the news this week encounters consumer concerns. Many people are generally uncomfortable with the idea of iRobot having a detailed map of their homes. However, even more people are uncomfortable with the idea of Amazon owning iRobot, and therefore having data that describes the inside layout of your home.
Consumers and advocacy groups have long been concerned with Amazon's business practices in regard to consumer and merchant privacy. For one, the company has been accused of using user sales data and merchant inventory to build out its Amazon Basics and other in-house brands. With a history of questionable data behavior, giving the company access to the complete layout of your home could pose a potential privacy issue.
Expanding Amazon's Acquisitions
This is not the only recent acquisition for the company that has raised privacy concerns. Recently, Amazon also purchased One Medical, a primary medical care chain in the United States. This purchase, in conjunction with iRobot, could be seen as the company reaching out to expand its data collection mechanisms across various new methods, including health data and home data.
Because of this purchasing spree, combined with continued data privacy concerns, this newest announcement is likely to be scrutinized highly by regulators. The company is already under investigation over its data usage for in-house product lines, and the optics on how the company could potentially use the data collected from these new companies is going to raise more red flags. However, it is unlikely that the iRobot purchase will be stopped by regulators, although the One Medical acquisition might be stopped.