iRobot's New Products Could End Up Lonely and Unloved
Two new products by iRobot (IRBT), a gutter-cleaning device and a virtual communications robot, are an attempt to expand the company's portfolio of consumer-targeted devices.
But the two offerings, with their limited appeal, may not do much for the company's crumbling stock.
On Thursday, iRobot introduced the Looj gutter-cleaning robot and the ConnectR virtual-visiting Robot to supplement its existing line of the Roomba vacuum cleaning robot and Scooba, an automated floor washing device.
Consumer robots accounted for 36% of the company's revenue in the second quarter fiscal 2007.The Looj is designed to clean a stretch of gutter, sweeping out dirt, leaves and other debris that can cause costly water damage and overspills, says iRobot. The cheapest version of the product is priced under $100. It may be an affordable buy for suburban homeowners, but Looj has significant limitations. It can't turn corners and has to be hoisted up a ladder into a gutter. There's a holster available that can be worn around the waist to carry the device up. Looj also can't turn off automatically when the cleaning is done. The larger issue is: How many of these machines can iRobot actually sell? The company has sold about 2 million Roombas since it was introduced in 2002. But sales of Looj could be a fraction of that.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV