Alexa, Where's My Roomba?

Amazon buys Roomba, inching toward smart home hegemony

Amazon is like an uninvited guest who keeps on making their way back into your home.

Nothing is safe from Amazon. The e-commerce giant is once again satisfying its appetite for buying up companies and is planning to buy iRobot — the company behind Roomba robot vacuum cleaners —for approximately $1.7 billion, or $61 per share.

iRobot has substantially grown the Roomba brand over the years, as evidenced by Amazon’s willingness to pay such an impressive sum for the acquisition. Some customer confidence was lost with the “pooptastrophy” problem, but the vacuum robots have largely rebounded since more people stayed at home during the pandemic and wanted clean homes without needing to do any work.

Considering Amazon is already present in many peoples’ homes with Ring cameras and Amazon Alexa, it makes sense that the company wants even more smart devices in your house. Some will be wary of this dominance, especially as customer data is essentially digital gold these days.

Astro vs. Roomba — It’s hard to say what exactly Amazon’s intentions are with acquiring iRobot. There’s a scenario where Amazon supports iRobots growth even further, as we can see with previous acquisitions like that of Whole Foods. Amazon at this point owns a scary amount of companies in various sectors, including Audible, Goodreads, Ring, Twitch, and the aforementioned Whole Foods. It even acquired the iconic TV and film studio MGM for $8.5 billion.

Amazon could be after iRobot’s technology behind the Roomba.iRobot

This acquisition comes a year after Amazon launched its Astro robot that hasn’t really gained much traction. The Astro was designed for multiple uses, like home security and elderly care, but is essentially just an Alexa device patrolling your home.

Considering the similarities between the Astro and the Roomba, Amazon could incorporate the two devices into one system. This acquisition could also be Amazon’s way of salvaging the Astro. Amazon could also be planning to use iRobot’s Roomba technology for its own warehousing needs, especially since the company released its own warehouse Roomba in June.

For better or worse — It’s too early to tell what Amazon’s plans are with iRobot. For those who are in favor of a fully equipped smart home with Roombas and Astros roaming around, this merger could be a crucial step towards that future.

Let’s just hope future Roombas won’t be linked to Amazon accounts.iRobot

On the other hand, for those who are tired of Amazon creeping its way into everyone’s homes, this represents yet another step toward the company’s smart home dominance. Imagine a world where your Roomba can automatically refill its own cleaning supplies since it’s linked to your Amazon account. To some, it’s the epitome of convenience; to others, it’s a borderline invasion of privacy.