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Amazon’s iRobot purchase is under investigation by European authorities

Amazon’s $1.7 billion acquisition of Roomba manufacturer iRobot is under scrutiny not only in the US, but also in Europe. The European Commission has revealed that it has opened an in-depth investigation into the purchase out of concerns that the merger would restrict competition for robotic vacuum cleaners. In particular, the commission is concerned that Amazon might prevent iRobot’s rivals from selling their robot vacuums on its marketplace. Amazon might favor iRobot’s products in both paid and unpaid search results or charge competing products more to advertise their offerings, the commission said. 

In addition, authorities are worried about the possibility of Amazon preventing iRobot rivals from accessing future Alexa APIs and from getting the “Works with Alexa” certification, since voice control with the assistant is one of the most important selling points for robot vacuums. Finally, the commission has raised concerns about Amazon obtaining access to iRobot users’ data, which it believes could provide the e-commerce giant “an important advantage.” Amazon could, for instance, use that information to better personalize and target advertisements. Bottom line is that the “transaction may raise barriers to entry and expansion for Amazon’s competitors to the detriment of consumers.”

The commission will now look into these concerns in cooperation with other competition authorities and has until November 15th to finalize its results. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission launched a probe into the acquisition last year after politicians from both parties asked it to oppose the purchase.

An Amazon spokesperson told Reuters that the company will “continue to work through the process with the European Commission and [is] focused on addressing its questions and any identified concerns at this stage.” They also told the news organization that Amazon could “offer a company like iRobot the resources to accelerate innovation and invest in critical features while lowering prices for consumers.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazons-irobot-purchase-is-under-investigation-by-european-authorities-054857108.html?src=rss

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