The European Union’s antitrust arm has raised concerns over Amazon’s $1.4 billion acquisition of iRobot Corp., the maker of Roomba vacuums. The European Commission in Brussels issued a statement of objections, highlighting potential competition issues that could arise from the proposed deal.
According to the EU, Amazon could take actions that would disadvantage other robot vacuum cleaner brands on its platform. For instance, the European Commission is wary that Amazon might promote its own products over those of competitors.
These designations could potentially lead to a preferential treatment of Amazon’s offerings, creating an uneven playing field in the market.
iRobot Corporation is a company known for its development and manufacturing of robotic products, with a primary focus on consumer robots.
The company was founded in 1990 and has become a prominent player in the field of robotics. One of its most well-known products is the Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner that has gained widespread popularity.
iRobot is recognized for its diverse range of robotic products designed to perform various tasks. In addition to the Roomba vacuum cleaners, the company produces other consumer robots such as the Braava, a robotic mop, and educational robots like the Create series.
It has also gained attention for military and defense robots like the PackBot used in tasks such as bomb disposal. iRobot integrates smart home features, enabling users to control robots through mobile apps and voice assistants.
The company is committed to technological innovation, investing in research and development for improved navigation, artificial intelligence, and connectivity features in its robotic products.
Responding to the deal, iRobot’s Chairman and CEO, Colin Angle, believes that the concern is unnecessary as iRobot is committed to cooperating with regulators.
Also, it’s reported that Amazon stated that the company is focused on addressing the European Commission’s concerns.
Additionally, while the UK authorities have given the green light to the deal, the EU and the US are still adamant about approving the acquisition due to competition and privacy concerns.
Amazon and AI
Amazon has been actively involved in AI since 2022, with a focus on expanding its AI services, providing AI education, and reaffirming its commitment to responsible AI.
The company has launched the “AI Ready” initiative to provide free AI training to two million individuals by 2025 and reaffirms its commitment to responsible generative AI.
Additionally, Amazon Ads introduces AI-powered image generation for advertisers, and the “Just Walk Out” experience in Amazon Go stores showcases the use of computer vision-based machine learning to enhance retail experiences through AI.
iRobot’s inclusion will enhance the company’s prominence in the home industry, having innovatively integrated Alexa into smart home designs, thereby establishing a new sector.
In addition to opposing the Amazon agreement, the EU has thwarted comparable transactions, including Adobe Inc.’s $20 billion purchase of Figma Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc.’s €1.6 billion ($1.7 billion) acquisition of Sweden’s Etraveli Group.