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Roomba users’ data won’t go to Amazon after all, as merger dropped

If you’re a Roomba user concerned about your home’s floor plan ending up in Amazon’s hands after the retailer completed its purchase of the vacuum cleaner iRobot, those worries are over.

Amazon has abandoned the proposed $1.4 billion takeover of iRobot around 18 months after it was first announced.

The reasons appear to be related to opposition from regulators in the European Union who had been investigating the deal over concerns it may harm competition in the smart home space.

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Many observers – this reporter included – had expressed concerns about the further sway Amazon would have on the smart home industry and the privacy implications for users, if the deal to a acquire the robot vacuum cleaner company went ahead.

This was given Amazon’s ownership of Ring and Eufy as well as its own-branded Alexa-powered speakers, smart displays, TVs, thermostats and more. Plus there’s deep integration with other brands’ smart home products via Alexa. Adding everything iRobot knows about its customers’ homes and habits would have been something to be wary of in terms of privacy.

The EU hadn’t rejected the deal at this point, but Amazon’s statement seems to indicate it would have been unable to get it over the line. The company says consumers will suffer, innovation will be dented and iRobot will find it harder to compete as a result.

“This outcome will deny consumers faster innovation and more competitive prices, which we’re confident would have made their lives easier and more enjoyable,” Amazon said in a statement.

“Mergers and acquisitions like this help companies like iRobot better compete in the global marketplace, particularly against companies, and from countries, that aren’t subject to the same regulatory requirements in fast-moving technology segments like robotics.”

The cancellation of the acquisition has already hit iRobot hard, with the company announcing it is letting go of almost one third of its entire workforce. The founder, CEO, and Chairman Colin Angle is also leaving the firm.

iRobot’s statement said: “The termination of the agreement with Amazon is disappointing, but iRobot now turns toward the future with a focus and commitment to continue building thoughtful robots and intelligent home innovations that make life better, and that our customers around the world love.”

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