It worked for Apple. Then Microsoft.

Now, Dyson is hoping it’ll work for them, too. The company best known for vacuum cleaners that never lose suction has opened up a “demo” store on Oxford Street in London. One of the featured products is Dyson’s 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner.

The current exchange rate puts the Dyson robot at $1,036 here in the United States. The price might seem a bit steep for a vacuum cleaner at any price – but you get what you pay for. The people at iRobot have been putting out Roomba robot vacuum cleaners for years.The current price ranges are from $375 to $900. So, the upper-end Roomba gets close to the price of a Dyson.

And they are robots.

I’ve owned a couple of the iRobot Roomba models (at the lower end of the spectrum). They were impressive. Until they didn’t work anymore.

I wouldn’t say they failed because of poor quality. The little robots eventually died because they worked themselves to death.

That’s the thing about robots.

They’re expensive to make, even with all the cheap technology currently at our disposal. It’s not the science that jacks up the price. It’s the manufacturing cost. They must be made from affordable material to offer a justifiable investment to the consumer. The tradeoff is that the affordable material likely isn’t durable. Parts wear out. A better quality rechargeable battery is cost-prohibitive. But, that’s how you innovate…and that’s how you pave the way for adoption.

It’s doubtful that most people could afford to buy an iRobot or Dyson robot vacuum cleaner made from the best materials available. Even though they’re not perfect and self-repairing, those little Roomba robots – and likely a new army of Dyson robots – are helping us fit robotic cleaning into our worldview. Meanwhile, Dyson and iRobot navigate the fine line between optimal functionality and affordability.

The price, especially for the robot vacuums that really suck (in a good way) will continue to decline as more people are introduced to them. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to get out there where consumers can see the robots at work.

Dyson has the right idea. Their new demo store features a debris bar. People are encouraged to toss over 60 varieties of stuff on the floor, and then watch the 360 Eye robot to to work.

One thing I’ve always wondered is why no one has ever added a self-cleaning function to vacuum cleaners. Be honest. When was the last time – if ever – that you cleaned yours? That’s the perfect job for a robot. Hey, iRobot and Dyson…are you listening?

So sayeth the StickMonkey

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