Amazon has signed a deal to buy Roomba robot vacuum cleaner maker iRobot in an all-cash deal valued at about $1.7 billion (£1.4bn) as it expands its already substantial smart-home offerings.

The e-commerce giant is to pay $61 per share for iRobot, about 22 percent over its closing price on Thursday of $49.99.

iRobot traded at more than twice that figure at the height of the pandemic as users invested in premium vacuum cleaners out of hygeine concerns, but more recently reported a 30 percent revenue drop for the second quarter as skyrocketing inflation took its toll on consumer spending in North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Amazon’s Astro robot. Image credit: Amazon

Smart devices

“Customers love iRobot products – and I’m excited to work with the iRobot team to invent in ways that make customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable,” said Amazon Devices senior vice president Dave Limp.

The company said it plans to keep Colin Angle as the chief executive of iRobot after the acquisition.

Amazon already offers its popular Alexa voice-activated assistant, Ring doorbells and home-monitoring devices and a smart thermostat and last year launched its $999 Astro robot, which offers Alexa features on a wheeled device with a 10.1-inch touchscreen.

iRobot earlier this year launched its iRobot OS, an AI-powered platform for its robot vacuums and mops, which advanced its ambitions to collect spatial data on homes that can be applied to other areas of the smart home.

Data concerns

The amount of home data Amazon would acquire with iRobot makes it likely the deal will face scrutiny by regulators, amidst increasing concerns around the world at the market power of the biggest tech companies.

US legislators are considering laws aimed at reining in tech giants’ influence, including limiting their ability to buy competitors, and the US Federal Trade Commission is already investigating Amazon.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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