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Random thoughts on the new Kindle Fire from someone who sells not Kindle Fires

September 28, 2013

Amazon unveiled a new Kindle Fire earlier this week. I’m a bit late commenting on it; but my initial reaction to it was “yawn” anyway, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m just getting around to it now. The one “revolutionary” new feature that Amazon is touting for its Kindle is something called the Mayday Button, which is supposed to help provide you with immediate personal assistance in the event that you have questions about or problems with your Kindle.

Honestly, I don’t feel the need to spend a ton of time on this. But, as you may know, I’m a retailer of a Kindle competitor in the NOOK and it’s certainly a relevant topic for my industry. So while I’m not going to write extensively about the announcement, I will bullet point a few thoughts I have off the top of my head about the Mayday Button.

  1. Every android tablet in existence (including the NOOK and all the other Kindle Fires) already has a Mayday button. It’s called the browser, and it leads you to Google which can pretty much help you solve any issue you have if you’re even the slightest bit tech savvy.
  2. In the cases that Google won’t work – ie. you can’t even turn the tablet on because it’s broken, or you literally don’t understand how to use a tablet in the first place – the Mayday button won’t be of any use at all anyway. And in my experience with troubleshooting digital devices, these are the two problems that most people actually need personal help with. Seriously, like 90% of time. What Amazon has built then is a nonsensical chat window for people who don’t need it, and a useless one for the people who do.
  3. A person in a chat window isn’t personal help, it’s a person in a chat window. One of the benefits that Barnes & Noble has always touted about it’s NOOK is personal service. I stand behind this 100%. Personal service means you talk to someone who helps you in person, and then if you have further issues down the road you know where to go to find that same person if you need them. And the reason you’d want to find that same person is because they’ll remember you too. That’s what personal is. Remotely drawing pictures on a screen doesn’t equate.
  4. The ability to take over my screen remotely is NOT a selling point. I don’t want Amazon touching my stuff, and once I’ve paid for my Kindle – it’s mine. I’m not paying for a tablet as a window to Amazon, I’m paying for it to be able to do the things I want to do whenever I want to do them.
  5. What happens when Amazon has a systems issue that isn’t isolated to one user? Do they have millions of Amazon associates to answer every Mayday request at the same time?

In sales, and particularly digital sales, you have to differentiate between features and benefits. Features are simply things a device has or can do. Benefits are what those things do for you. They’re unique to each person. The Mayday Button is an example of feature disguised as a universal benefit. It sounds neat at first, but when you start asking questions about how it adds to the experience for an individual person it really only benefits very few consumers. By the way, Amazon knows this too, and it’s how we both know that those millions of associates I asked about won’t ever need to exist at all.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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