Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

iRobot is best known for its Roomba series of robot vacuums, and back in 2022, the company announced plans to be purchased by Amazon. That deal how now fallen apart due to (completely understandable) anticompetitive concerns from regulators.

Amazon and iRobot announced today that the companies have given up on their acquisition agreement, which would have involved Amazon purchasing iRoomba for $1.4 billion. The deal was first announced in 2022, and would have given Amazon another foothold in the smart home market. Amazon already sells Echo smart speakers, Fire TV streaming hardware, and Ring smart cameras, and the company’s Alexa virtual assistant is used in countless other smart home products.

The agreement never recieved approval from European Union regulators, which were concerned that the merger could lead to “higher prices, lower quality and less innovation for customers.” The acquisition could have led to Amazon promoting iRobot devices over other competing products on the Amazon online store, like the company already does with its other hardware brands and Amazon Basics products. Amazon didn’t offer any concessions to the European Comission to help push the deal through. The United States Federal Trade Comission was also investigating the deal, but the United Kingdom had already approved it.

It’s unclear how the Roomba lineup might have changed under Amazon. More integration with Alexa and other Amazon services was probably in the cards, or the iRobot’s products could have been merged with Amazon’s own attempts at home robots. The Ring Always Home Cam, a small flying drone for recording video anywhere in a home, is still expected to arrive sometime in 2024.

Amazon said in a press release, “This outcome will deny consumers faster innovation and more competitive prices, which we’re confident would have made their lives easier and more enjoyable. Undue and disproportionate regulatory hurdles discourage entrepreneurs, who should be able to see acquisition as one path to success, and that hurts both consumers and competition—the very things that regulators say they’re trying to protect.” Perhaps if Amazon didn’t have a long history of anticompetitive practices, government regulators would have been a bit more willing to give the company a pass this time.

Source: Amazon, The Verge

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By John P.

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