FTC digs into Amazon’s iRobot deal

The next step would be to formally open an in-depth investigation into the iRobot deal, which the people said is expected given the detailed questions from agency officials. Both were granted anonymity to discuss a confidential investigation.

The FTC’s iRobot review is comprehensive, one of the people said, including both head-to-head competition and whether the deal would illegally increase Amazon’s market share in both the connected devices market and the retail market overall. Amazon also sells an advanced robot vacuum cleaner that has failed to gain traction with consumers. The FTC is also examining how the purchase will add to Amazon̵[ads1]7;s growing lineup of smart devices, which also includes Ring security cameras and the Alexa digital assistant.

Among the concerns the FTC is investigating is whether the data generated about a consumer’s home by iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaner would give it an unfair advantage over a number of other retailers. That concern was voiced by several critics of the deal when it was first announced early this month. For example, Amazon could have an advantage with a consumer looking to buy a sofa, using detailed home maps generated by iRobot to suggest specific items.

And the iRobot filing comes as the FTC also pushes ahead with its investigation into another deal. On Friday, 1Life Healthcare — which runs primary care One Medical – revealed that the FTC opened an in-depth review of the takeover of Amazon. The two agreements were announced less than three weeks apart this summer.

One Medical is a membership-based primary care provider, with locations around the United States, Amazon turning off a similar service, a fact that could draw criticism from the FTC, which could interpret the move as Amazon choosing to buy a competitor rather than compete with it.

In the One Medical deal, the FTC is questioning the data Amazon will have access to, asking insurers and others how One Medical’s patient data would potentially give it an advantage over competitors and customers, according to a person with knowledge of that review. That person was granted anonymity because this information is part of the confidential investigation.

The FTC, One Medical and iRobot did not immediately respond for comment.

Amazon declined to comment on either view. The company reiterated its previous statements about both deals, saying it will use all necessary safeguards for consumer data, including health information.

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