US market regulator opens investigation into Amazon takeover of Roomba maker

The US Federal Trade Commission has launched a competition investigation into Amazon’s acquisition of robotic vacuum cleaner manufacturer iRobot. Politico reports this based on anonymous sources.

With the investigation, the FTC wants to determine whether the acquisition hinders competition, writes Politico. The regulator will also examine whether the acquisition will illegally increase Amazon’s market share in the market for ‘connected devices’ and the general retail market. Among other things, the FTC is looking at how the proposed acquisition would affect the market for smart home devices.

The market regulator will, among other things, look at whether the data generated by Roomba vacuum cleaners could give Amazon an ‘unfair advantage’ over other retailers. For example, Amazon could use data from the robot vacuum cleaners, which generate a kind of floor plan of users’ homes, when recommending products.

Amazon announced in early August that it plans to acquire iRobot. The retail giant pays $1.7 billion for the Roomba makers. The two companies are said to have submitted the acquisition plans to the FTC more than two weeks ago. It is unknown how long the investigation will take, but Amazon and iRobot are preparing for a “potentially lengthy and arduous investigation,” Politico sources said.