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Help! Kindle Fire HDX’s live video tech support arrives

The Kindle Fire HDX was recently announced, and it includes a wide range of spec upgrades — from a higher res display (323 PPI, 1920 x 1200) to a 2.2GHz quad-core processor to improved battery life. Upgrades are to be expected, but the Kindle Fire HDX does include a powerful new feature that could be a game changer: live free video tech support. 

The feature is called, fittingly enough, Mayday. It’s basically a live Amazon service that, at the touch of a button, pops up a helpful employee who can help troubleshoot your tablet issues. You see the person live in a small video window, but they cannot see you. But what they can do is control your screen and help you troubleshoot. They can even draw diagrams on your screen, much like football analysis, to help walk you through what settings to move or control. Think of it as a built in Genius Bar, except you don’t have to drive down to the Apple Store or make an appointment. Response time will reportedly be around 15 seconds. At least that is what Amazon is targeting for. 

Amazon has never given out actual sales numbers for Kindles, except vague references like “our best selling” or “our number one wanted item,” so its unclear how many chirpy tech support people will be needed to respond in less than 30 seconds to what could be a dramatic ramp up of hundreds, thousands or even millions of people clicking that little button. When the Kindle Fire HDX launches, we’ll see how the supply and demand works out. Actually, scratch that: Amazon will probably not provide any hard data for its user base of those using Mayday with the new Kindle Fire HDX. But it will be very interesting to see how it works out. 

The bigger picture is the concept. Amazon clearly has a lot of money to throw at this, since it’s a free service (with the tablet) that could clearly cost millions to implement. But to see a major company use video on a mobile device for screen sharing and tech support is pretty huge. The fact that it is building this into its new tablet operating system, now called Fire OS 3.0 (still Android-based), is a pretty big leap. Part of gaining marketshare and mindshare of tablets is ease of use, for all users, from adults to older generations to home users to business people. Microsoft’s Surface has struggled with ease of use (with dual, and dueling, operating screens on Windows RT, for example), while Apple on the other hand has created a less customizable but easier to use iOS 7. Android, even skinned over many times as the Kindle tablets are, can be a challenge to learn and use for many. Having live video tech support baked in will be a welcome advance, and one that gives Amazon a leg up on the competition. Other brands have tech support now; you can call a number and get a walk-through if you are having an issue typically. But having a button with live video from a tech support person is not just a next step; its a huge step. 

We’ll have to wait to see how this all goes, but for now, even with great tech specs like screen resolution and processor upgrades, the newest playing field in the tablet marketshare war could be held in how much help can be provided via mobile video ... with just the click of a button.