Hold on to your hats, robotics fans, because iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ: IRBT ) is about to unveil the latest in its efforts to simplify cleaning your home.
iRobot took to the Web early Monday with the following teaser, which shows an animated drop of water creating ripples below a slick new "Clean" button:
Now you might remember that iRobot did nearly the exact same thing in November to prep consumers for the launch of its groundbreaking new Roomba 880 vacuum, whose new brushless system looks like a huge leap forward over previous Roomba models.
Here's what could be arriving
So, what might iRobot be up to now?
Well, keeping the water in mind, we know the company already offers its Mirra line of pool cleaning robots -- but the timing would be admittedly odd for such a launch considering it's not exactly swimsuit weather for most of the country right now.
Or perhaps iRobot is about to unveil a new version of its Braava floor mopping and sweeping bot. Then again, it's worth noting that iRobot only just finished rebranding the Braava last August, which itself was the result of a product previously offered by iRobot acquiree Evolution Robotics. What's more, iRobot only just launched Braava in China last month, and management previously asserted they'll be rolling it out across most of EMEA during the remainder of 2014.
Instead, I think the most likely candidates due for a refresh are iRobot's Scooba floor-washing bots, which haven't seen any improvements since the Scooba 390 was launched in early 2012.
At the time, the Scooba 390 one-upped its smaller predecessor by incorporating a multistage process involving a Roomba-esque vacuum, thereby eliminating the need for consumers to pre-sweep hard floors before letting the Scooba do its thing.
However, before iRobot's animated GIF revealed tomorrow's date, it also displayed a message reading, "New Year. New Robot. New Way to Clean." So the real question remains: How could iRobot have changed the Scooba to merit teasing that "New Way to Clean"?
Maybe iRobot has truly created something new -- say, for instance, an effective robotic carpet shampooing or steaming solution. But that's not exactly something most consumers would consider necessary on as frequent a basis as vacuuming, so it could prove a much harder sell to anyone on the fence.
Of course, it could also just be undue pomp and circumstance leading up to a simple redesign. After all, iRobot has to make its robots better somehow, even if it comes in the form of relatively infrequent baby steps.
But with the stock currently trading at a lofty 30 times next year's estimated earnings (and as an iRobot shareholder myself), I know I'm not alone in hoping the company has something bigger in store.
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Regardless of what iRobot says tomorrow, I'm sticking to my plan for holding its shares over the long term. After all, there's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich. And I'm convinced iRobot belongs in the latter category.
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