Amazon Faces Full-Scale EU Antitrust Probe Over iRobot Acquisition

Amazon is reportedly facing a full-scale EU antitrust investigation over its $1.7 billion acquisition of iRobot, the maker of the popular Roomba vacuum cleaner introduced in 2002.

After completing its preliminary review of the deal on July 6, the European Commission has scheduled a four-month investigation, according to sources claiming that Amazon is unlikely to offer any remedies during this initial phase.

While the U.K. competition agency recently backed Amazon’s argument that it is not using its market power to disadvantage rival robot vacuum cleaner makers, antitrust enforcers worldwide are becoming increasingly wary of Big Tech acquiring smaller rivals.

These include about 20 organizations that urged regulators to halt the deal over data privacy concerns, PYMNTS reported last year. Concerns were also about Amazon boosting its strength in the market for smart home devices and big businesses leveraging their dominance into newer markets.

Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot was announced in August of last year as part of the company’s strategy to expand its portfolio of smart devices, which include the widely used Alexa voice assistant, smart thermostats, security devices, and wall-mounted smart displays.

“We know that saving time matters, and chores take precious time that can be better spent doing something that customers love,” Amazon Devices Senior Vice President Dave Limp said at the time.

PYMNTS research found that the share of consumers using smart home and digital home applications was higher in May than at any point since November 2021 — and is climbing.

Thirty-two percent of consumers use tools that automate cleaning tasks, such as vacuuming or pool cleaning, at least once a month, according to PYMNTS’ “ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Rise of the Smart Home.”

“Not only do 53 million U.S. consumers use automatic and smart home technologies, such as Roombas and climate control systems, but 79 million Americans use voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home to help manage daily chores and their connected homes,” the study stated.