After nearly two decades of selling Roombas, iRobot is looking beyond hardware to stand out from its rivals.
Although the company will keep making robot vacuums—it has 87% market share in the United States, and 67% outside China—its strategy is becoming more about software and services than superior hardware. That shift starts today with an overhaul for the iRobot Home app and a related suite of new cleaning features that the company is calling “iRobot Genius.”
iRobot Genius is free to iRobot users. But Colin Angle, iRobot’s founder and CEO, says that the goal is to make its Roomba vacuums and Braava mops smarter over time, and he hints that the “brain swap” will eventually support new subscription-based businesses.
“A robot isn’t a tool like a hammer. It’s a partner,” Angle says. “And so by being a better partner, we believe we can have a long-term trusted relationship with the customer, which makes what we do feel more like a service.”