Mayday: What Amazon Realized About the Smartphone Market That Competitors Missed

You might have heard that Amazon launched its first phone today: the Fire Phone. In its introduction, Amazon introduced several features that set their phone apart from the other smartphones on the market. In addition to the tightly integrated shopping app Firefly, Amazon talked about its existing Mayday service and its integration in the new phone.

Mayday on the Fire Phone. Image credit: Amazon

Mayday on the Fire Phone.
Image credit: Amazon

Mayday is a customer support feature that connects users to live customer support agents via video chat on their device. The agents can then control the screen on the user’s device and make annotations on the screen to show the users how to solve their specific problem. Jeff Bezos said that “customer service agents generally respond in fewer than 10 seconds” on the Kindle Fire HDX tablets. That’s incredibly low and certainly lower than any live chat or phone support I’ve encountered in the past few years.

Techcrunch estimates that the cost of the service may be built into the cost of ownership as the Fire Phone is a bit high compared to the competition. Amazon offers the entry-level 32GB for 199 with a two-year contract with AT&T or $649 without a contract, which is comparable to the iPhone 5c.

I hadn’t realized that Mayday was such a popular feature. It’s even called the killer feature of Amazon Fire readers, which surprised me initially but after some thought made sense. So few of the other smartphone manufacturers offer such a high level of support. Most of them send their users to online forums and Apple seems to be the best with online chat and in-store support. But with its on-device video chat and annotation, Mayday is a cut above Apple.

Amazon realized that with the growth of smartphone sales, not all the users are going to be adept at finding solutions to their technical problems by themselves. More than that: these users are willing to pay a premium to have omniscient human support that can solve their problem almost instantly. This isn’t a trivial feature to set up (not as much from the technical aspect as from the HR aspect) and that fact that Amazon put its finger on the problem and solved it so elegantly gives it a huge advantage.

I’m glad Amazon decided to jump into the smartphone waters. They bring a different product perspective to the existing selection.

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