Amazon.com Inc.’s US$1.65 billion planned takeover of Roomba vacuum maker iRobot Corp. faces a European Union merger review, as watchdogs ramp up scrutiny of deals with the potential to boost Big Tech’s power over data.
The European Commission said in a website filing it set a provisional deadline of July 6 to decide whether to open an in-depth probe into the transaction, which has faced criticism for putting “Amazon inside our living rooms.”
The purchase gives Amazon a household-name in home cleaning gadgets that may give it a leg up over its own designs. Amazon’s own household robot, called the Astro, is still in a limited rollout two years on from its creation.
Amazon said in a statement it’s “working cooperatively with the relevant regulators in their review of this merger.”
The transaction is also being probed in the U.K., where the Competition and Markets Authority will decide by June 16 whether to refer it to an in-depth investigation.
Seattle-based Amazon has come a long way as a hardware player since a failed foray into smartphones a few years ago, working diligently to place the Alexa voice software and Echo smart speakers at the center of the burgeoning market for smart-home gadgets.
Foxglove, a London-based tech advocacy group, earlier this year urged the EU to investigate and block the planned transaction, expressing “grave concerns” the deal will “cause harm to consumers and competition in ways that cannot necessarily be fully conceived of today.”