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Amazon’s Roomba Deal Is Really About Mapping Your Home

In buying iRobot, the e-commerce titan gets a data collection machine that comes with a vacuum.

An employee cleans an iRobot Corp. Roomba display inside an Amazon.com Inc. 4-star store in Berkeley, Calif. on March 29, 2019.

An employee cleans an iRobot Corp. Roomba display inside an Amazon.com Inc. 4-star store in Berkeley, Calif. on March 29, 2019.

Photographer: Cayce Clifford/Bloomberg
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Amazon.com Inc. hasn’t just bought a maker of robot vacuum cleaners. It’s acquired a mapping company. To be more precise: a company that can make maps of your home.

The company announced a $1.7 billion deal on Friday for iRobot Corp., the maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner. And yes, Amazon will make money from selling those gadgets. But the real value resides in those robots’ ability to map your house. As ever with Amazon, it’s all about the data.