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Tablets are more popular than ever, and Amazon(s amzn) just introduced two new Kindle Fires, smartly timed to arrive right at the peak of the holiday shopping season. To help sell devices, Amazon has introduced a feature to convince new buyers that they, too, can use a tablet: A Mayday button that promises to deliver live video tech support directly to your tablet at any time in just 15 seconds. The comparisons to Apple’s(s aapl) Genius Bar are obvious, but this is so much easier than that because you don’t need to actually get up and go to the Apple store. You don’t even have to leave your couch.
Some quick highlights: As long as you have a Kindle Fire HDX, Mayday support is free. (If you have any other Kindle, you’re out of luck.) It’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To access it, all you need to do is tap on the Mayday button found in your tablet’s Quick Settings menu.
Once you push the button, Amazon hopes to connect you with a live support representative in 15 seconds or less. When you’re on the call, you’ll be able to see the support representative in real-time in a small video window on your tablet’s screen. While the representative will be able to see whatever is on your tablet’s screen, they won’t actually be able to see you. From there, the rep will guide you to solve your problem, but if it requires more assistance, they can actually access and control your tablet remotely.
This is a great feature for first-time tablet buyers, who might otherwise be too intimidated making the leap to a tablet. It’s a good feature for seasoned users as well, as everyone can run into some problems from time to time, but I think Mayday is Amazon’s attempt to seek out all of the potential tablet buyers that are on the fence.
Of course, there are a couple of potential pitfalls here. First is that 15-second response time, which Amazon says is a “goal.” As anyone who has ever called a customer service line can imagine, it’s a pretty lofty goal. Unless Amazon has a truly tremendous support team in place, I’d expect to be waiting a bit longer than 15 seconds, at least at the outset.
Additionally, there are a few security concerns. Once you’ve pushed the Mayday button, whichever representative you are put in contact with will have complete access to your tablet, including passwords and other personal information. Representatives can turn off the ability to see what you are doing (you’ll see a message letting you know when they do), but this sort of unfettered access will probably not make security-conscious users happy.
Still, provided it works as seamlessly as Amazon promises, I think the Mayday button is a really smart idea that will help Amazon sell a lot of tablets. It even makes the idea of giving a tablet as a gift more appealing: Rather than having to field any questions yourself, help is just a tap away.