Roomba to face competition from more affordable gadgets

The Roomba could be in danger of getting stepped on.

IRobot, manufacturer of the pricey robotic vacuum cleaner, may face competition from a litter of lower-cost gadgets later this year that could smack its sales and profits, a short seller claims in a new report obtained by The Post.

SharkNinja — a fast-growing vacuum-cleaner maker that specializes in cheaper versions of name-brand designs — has filed a trademark application for a robotic vacuum called the “Shark Ion Robot,” Spruce Point Capital notes in the report.

“Based on our research, SharkNinja wants to be No. 1 or No. 2 in every market [it enters],” Ben Axler, chief investment officer of Spruce Point, told The Post.

Pricing is one way for SharkNinja to get there.

While iRobot’s lowest-cost Roomba starts at $375, other models retail for as high as $799.

Meanwhile, Spruce Point predicts Shark­Ninja’s product — which could arrive as early as this fall — could be priced in the $299-to-$399 range. The company’s current line of upright vacuums range from $119 to $299.

Shares of the Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot — which are up 72 percent this year, closing Monday at $100.98 — could fall as much as 50 percent if SharkNinja and other competitors are successful, Spruce Point said in its report.

Just three days before SharkNinja filed its trademark application, iRobot filed patent infringement suits against several vacuum manufacturers including Hoover, Bissell and Black & Decker.

But on Monday, iRobot’s views appeared to soften when asked about the supposed SharkNinja threat.

“Other companies are realizing what iRobot has known all along — that some jobs, like vacuuming and mopping, are best suited for a robot,” the company said.

SharkNinja didn’t respond to requests for comment.


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