The next step would be to formally open an in-depth investigation into the iRobot deal, which the people say is expected given detailed inquiries from agency officials. Both were given anonymity to discuss a confidential investigation.
The FTC’s iRobot review is broad, one of the people said, including competition among themselves and whether the deal will illegally increase Amazon’s market share in both the connected device market and the retail market in general. Amazon also sells a high-end robotic vacuum that has failed to gain traction with consumers. The FTC is also investigating how the purchase would contribute to Amazon’s growing lineup of smart devices, which also includes Ring security cameras and the digital assistant Alexa.
One of the concerns the FTC is investigating is whether the data generated by iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaner about a consumer’s home will give it an unfair advantage over a host of other retailers. Those concerns were raised by multiple critics of the deal when it was first announced early this month. For example, Amazon could benefit a consumer who wants to buy a sofa by using detailed home maps generated by iRobot to represent certain items.
And the iRobot review comes as the FTC also continues to investigate another deal. On Friday, 1Life Healthcare – which operates the primary care provider One Medical – revealed that the FTC has opened an in-depth review of Amazon’s acquisition. The two deals were announced less than three weeks apart this summer.
One Medical is a membership-based primary care provider, with locations in the US, Amazon is shut down a similar service, a fact that could face disapproval from the FTC, which could interpret the move as Amazon choosing to buy from a competitor rather than compete with it.
In the One Medical deal, the FTC is asking questions about the data Amazon might have access to, questioning insurance companies and others about how One Medical’s patient data could potentially give the company an advantage over competitors and customers, according to a person with knowledge of that assessment. That person was given anonymity because that 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 on both deals and said it will apply all necessary safeguards for consumer data, including healthcare information.