Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos couldn't care less how old your Kindle is. "We don't need people to be on the upgrade treadmill. If I see people using a 5-year-old Kindle, I'm delighted," Bezos says.
Of course, he'd be equally delighted to sell you new hardware. [Wednesday, Amazon unfurled] a potentially disruptive tech-support feature -- Mayday -- that's aimed at rescuing people from their frustrations. The free service arrives with the company's newest tablets, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX and the 8.9-inch version that you can now pre-order online. "Our goal is to revolutionize tech support," Bezos says, in an interview with USA TODAY at Amazon headquarters.
Tech support? Really? Free? Really. In fact, Mayday is the kind of knock-your-socks-off feature that is not only sure to get attention, but that will play into Bezos' grand plan to cement Kindle's place in an excruciatingly competitive tablet market.
Amazon's three-legged strategy starts, Bezos says, with Amazon selling premium products at non-premium prices. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX starts at $229, while its 8.9-inch sibling goes for $379 on up. But Amazon has also upped the specs on last year's Kindle Fire HD model with an all-new version that drops that price from $199 to $139.
The second part of the strategy is to make money when people use the devices, not necessarily when they buy them.
The third leg is where an innovative feature like Mayday comes in, at the intersection between what Bezos refers to as "customer delight" and deep integration with Amazon's entire business, including the hardware, operating system, key apps, the cloud and Amazon Web services.
HOW IT WORKS
During a Mayday session, you share control with the Amazon support person who turns up in a small onscreen window within 15 seconds of when you tap the Mayday button.
The rep can see what you have on your screen, and can take over in real time to show you how to get things done on the device, or even do them on your behalf. The rep can also draw on the display to, for example, circle icons or buttons. The screen session can be paused if you need to type in a password, which the rep won't see.
"Everybody has that feeling from time to time, no matter how sophisticated of a user you are," Bezos says. "There are things we do every day, and we get pretty good at it ... and then things in the settings menus or unusual features that we only do every couple of months or once a year." (continued...)
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