Amazon, which recently raised its Amazon Prime subscription price, is spending $1.7 billion to buy iRobot, the maker of the Roomba lineup of robot vacuum cleaners. This is Amazon’s fourth-largest deal to acquire top brands offering popular consumer products. The iRobot purchase, pending shareholder approval at iRobot, follows the recent $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, a boutique primary care provider that directs Amazon deeper into the medical field. Amazon also spent $13.7 billion when it bought Whole Foods in 2017 and $8.45 billion buying MGM studios.
What does this mean for you? Just that the dots from famous brand names you know continue to connect to one name-brand owner: Amazon. And Amazon would like to make even more of your everyday and big-ticket purchases through Amazon Prime, not just on Amazon Prime Day. (If Amazon going deeper is a turnoff, you can always step away from the online giant and seek alternatives to Amazon Prime.)
To recap: Amazon owns a big player in the grocery business, Whole Foods. Amazon owns a big piece of Hollywood, MGM studios, plus its own Amazon Studios as well as IMDB, the internet movie database that’s also a streaming video service. Amazon continues to go deep in healthcare with its purchase of One Medical. It’s got your home covered with Ring doorbells and security products and devices, and now Roomba, which as it scurries about cleaning can map your home and feed information into Amazon’s databases. Want to turn that off? That’s within your control.
So what will Amazon do with Roomba, which has been in the home floor cleaning business for a decade? Wedge its way deeper into the electronics home goods e-commerce space with a well-known, high quality product. Not that Amazon wasn’t already there … sort of. Amazon has its own home robot, although for security monitoring, not cleaning, in its Astro Smart Home Robot – yes, you’re getting the “Jetsons” references – described by The Verge as a mashup of Amazon’s proprietary Echo Show and Roomba’s robot tech. Critics don't like the Astro... maybe buying Roomba will improve the Amazon offerings?
Bob was Senior Editor at Kiplinger.com for seven years and is now a contributor to the website. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.
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