Should auld acquaintance be robot

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August marked a 12 months since Amazon introduced plans to accumulate iRobot in a $1.7 billion deal that some analysts prompt might give the retail big an enormous head begin in client robotics in a lot the identical means Kiva boosted its industrial ambitions a 12 months prior.

I don’t know that anybody anticipated such an enormous deal to easily skate previous regulators — notably with the entire warmth Amazon has obtained for privateness issues and noncompetitive practices during the last decade. On the identical time, I don’t suppose too many people assumed that we’d be barreling into 2024 with this massive, open query mark.

The deal has already been greenlit by quite a lot of governmental our bodies, however the course of has felt drawn out at each step. If you happen to’re an everyday Actuator reader, you probably already know my emotions about outdoors scrutiny of enterprise practices (I’m usually professional), however I anticipated one thing definitive by now.

Amazon will probably be simply nice, in fact, however I can’t think about this ready recreation has been straightforward on iRobot, which underwent two rounds of layoffs in mid-2022 and early 2023. Simply forward of the announcement’s one-year anniversary, iRobot confirmed that it was reducing its buy value by 15%, whereas elevating $200 million in debt to “fund its ongoing operations” — debt that Amazon will tackle if the deal does, in reality, shut.

A month in the past, EU antitrust regulators voiced the next concern: “Amazon could have the flexibility and the motivation to foreclose iRobot’s rivals by participating in a number of foreclosing methods geared toward stopping rivals from promoting RVCs on Amazon’s on-line market and/or at degrading their entry to it.”

Amazon countered that its iRobot already faces “intense competitors,” including that its huge assets would decrease costs and “speed up innovation.”

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The European Fee has given itself a Valentine’s Day 2024 deadline to succeed in its closing choice.

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