Sept. 25 -Amazon unveils an upgrade to its Kindle Fire line of tablets including ''Mayday'' a 24-hour online video customer service chat as the online retailer tries to close the gap with other tablet makers heading into the holiday battle. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The stage is being set for this year's tablet war for the holidays and Amazon is hoping a human touch will give it the edge. UPSOUND: KINDLE MAYDAY COMMMERCIAL: "Mayday......thank you for pressing the Mayday button how may I help you." Free, live video help, around the clock: that's Amazon's Mayday, a service that could pay off with Amazon customers used to the simplicity of just click and buy, says Patrick Moorehead of Moor Insights & Strategy. SOUNDBITE: PATRICK MOOREHEAD, PRESIDENT, MOOR INSIGHTS & STRATEGY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Amazon caters to a very different demographic, let's say than Apple does, and I would contend they are less technologically sophisticated, so they are more likely to run into a problem, even though a tablet is designed to be very easy. And I believe that Amazon, whose part of their brand promise is about trust and people do actually trust them, this could work for Amazon." Amazon is also managing to cram more features and faster speeds into a smaller device for a lower price. The new Kindle Fire HDX keeps up that tradition with a 7-inch model as low as $229 and the bigger 8.9-inch starting at $379, both are at least $100 cheaper than comparative iPads. And come in way under the $449 price tag for Microsoft's Surface 2 unveiled this week. By the way, Amazon dropped the price for a revamped Kindle Fire HD to just 139 bucks. And price has been a winning factor in part. Last holiday season, The Kindle Fire HD helped Amazon grab the number two spot in market share for tablet shipments in the U.S., according to IDC. That lead however was lost internationally where Samsung's Galaxy was a stronger player. SOUNDBITE: PATRICK MOOREHEAD, PRESIDENT, MOOR INSIGHTS & STRATEGY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I don't necessarily see Amazon gaining market share based on the HDX line, like everybody in the market they are upping their game but there is nothing here that stands out to say that this will be a big market share mover, or people are going to stop buying an iPad or a Samsung or a Google Nexus and go to Amazon." But taking over the tablet world is not Amazon's goal, instead it is still betting consumers who save money on the Kindle HD will spend those savings on Amazon products, and the Internet retailer is ramping up cross-selling on the new devices with just a tap of a finger. The upgraded models start shipping as early as October.