Softbank may be best known as one of Japan's top phone carriers, but their recent behind-the-scenes investments make it clear they want something more. Bloomberg Technology reports that the Japanese company has invested in iRobot, the manufacturer of the robot vacuum Roomba, with a stake of less than 5 percent. iRobot recently reported strong second-quarter results.
This isn't the first robotics company that Softbank has put some money into. Just last month, the phone carrier purchased Boston Dynamics from Google, along with all of its robots. Softbank also has found success with its companion robot, Pepper. While we had mixed results in our interactions with the companion robot, it appears that Pepper is actually helping drive sales at physical retail locations.
This latest investment by Softbank confirms that it really is one of the most interesting tech companies out there. So many Japanese companies stagnated because of advances in technology that they simply couldn't keep up with (such as the switch from film cameras to digital). It's clear that Softbank is determined to future proof itself as much as possible, and it thinks that future lies in robots. It's only a matter of time before we have to start calling it "the Japanese robotics giant" instead of "phone carrier."