Robot vacuums may have once seemed an eccentricity, but they now represent a non-trivial portion of the overall vacuum market – 20 percent worldwide, according to iRobot CEO and co-founder Colin Angle, who I spoke to at TechCrunch Beijing 2016. And Roomba makes up 70 percent of that market, giving iRobot a commanding lead in the space.
Exactly how many robots does that translate to? Over 14 million Roombas sold to date, Angle said, which is a steady business for a consumer product that starts at a price point that tends to be a bit higher than your average human-powered home cleaning hardware.
iRobot’s lead in the market should be easily defensible, Angle says, because the company has a long lead in terms of working on the problem, and because it’s focused on consumer home cleaning products exclusively. iRobot’s become even more focused of late, since the company recently divested itself of its defense and security robotics division and is now focused entirely on the home consumer space.
A commanding presence in the robotic vacuum space isn’t just a hedge for its primary business, either – Angle envisions home robots gaining more importance as homes get smarter, since they’ll act as the arms, ears and appendages of our domestic AIs of the future.