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iRobot's New Products Could End Up Lonely and Unloved

iRobot has said revenue from Looj and ConnectR will not materially impact its fiscal 2007 results. But it hopes the devices will give the company a chance to get feedback from its consumers and test the waters for newer product categories.

Even if the two new products don't succeed, they send a message that iRobot is willing to take its consumer robots line beyond the idea of cleaning and expand its market, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Heidi Wood.

"The company has a vision of the iRobot home, a place featuring robots that assist not only in household chores, but also in facilitating communications and interpersonal connectivity," wrote Wood in a recent research note. Morgan Stanley has an investment banking relationship with iRobot.

It's a lofty vision for the company, but if Looj and ConnectR fail to take off, it could become an expensive mistake amid a struggle to establish mass-market potential.

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