) announced the debut of its Braava Floor Mopping Robot in North
America close on the heels of its successful introduction in the
European market in the second quarter. Shares of this leader in
delivering robotic technology-based solutions jumped 4% following
the news as the product is expected to augment revenues.
The robot with dimensions of 3 inches height and width of 8.5
inches is convenient to use. At the push of a button, Braava will
mop the floor and when it is done, the robot will return to where
it started. It has been designed to systematically and
efficiently mop (dry or damp) the entire floor in just one pass.
This scores above the iRobot's Roomba vacuum cleaning robot and
Scooba floor washing robot, which require several passes to clean
iRobot will rollout two models under this series -- Braava 320
and Braava 380t. Both are designed to sweep and mop floors.
Braava 380t is a costlier model due to its advanced features such
as upgraded navigation, fast charging battery, a quick clean
mode, a turbo charging mode and a furniture guard included on the
bumper, and pause/resume functionality.
iRobot also makes robots used by military services and
law-enforcement agencies. iRobot's bomb-disposal robots is pitted
against British rival, QinetiQ, Turkey's biggest defense
contractor, Aselsan. Separately,
Northrop Grumman Corp.
) officially launched its CUTLASS unmanned ground vehicle, and
plans to expand it internationally.
This might be a heavy blow to iRobot. Furthermore, a cut in
defense spending will also affect iRobot's revenues. However,
given that cut in U.S defense spending will reduce demand for its
military robots, iRobot has been prioritizing its home robots.
Since the launch of the company's award winning flagship Roomba
Vacuum Cleaning Robot in 2002, iRobot has achieved the milestone
of selling more than 10 million home robots globally. In 2012,
iRobot strengthened its home robot business by scooping up
Evolution Robotics, which manufactured the Mint cleaning robot
for $74 million.
Mint was the major competitor to its Scooba robot and the
acquisition put iRobot in a strong position in the market for
home cleaning robots. Braava is a revamped version of Evolution
Robotics' Mint floor sweeping robots.
iRobot had launched Braava in the second quarter in Europe, which
provided a boost to the region's results compared to the first
quarter. Domestic revenue growth of 26% along with international
growth of 18% led to a 20% year-over-year increase in Home Robot
revenues in the second quarter. The launch of Braava overseas and
broadened availability of the Roomba 600 and 700 robots to
retailers combined to increase Home Robot revenues.
The launch of Braava in the U.S along with further growth from
adoption of the company's core products are expected to lead to
domestic revenue growth. Revenues are also expected to be strong
in the overseas market driven by strong demand in Japan,
continued Roomba sales in China and expanded distribution of
Braava in EMEA. Given the successful domestic home robot
business, iRobot expects the overall home robot market to grow
25% to 30% in 2013.
Robotic floor cleaners have proved to be one of the fastest
growing consumer products in the past few years and iRobot is in
a position to capitalize on the demand. Braava will undoubtedly
provide a revenue boost for iRobot in the domestic market, which
generated around one-third of the company's home robot revenues
This will also provide a competitive edge to other
manufacturers such as
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
) ASUSTeK Computer, Inc. and Micro-Star International, who are
introducing new generation of vacuum robots with smart mapping
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iRobot holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).