Amazon’s Mayday Service On Fire Phone Means It Might Be Able To Sell Its Unique New Features

Amazon has brought Mayday to the Fire Phone, it announced today. The Mayday service offers one-tap access to customer service agents who can talk to phone users via video chat, and take over the screen on their devices to show them exactly how to do something, complete with annotations. The service is available 24 hours, and service representatives will respond to requests within 15 seconds, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said on stage.

It’s accessible from any screen on the Fire Phone via a simple pull-down of the menu from the top of the screen, in the same way you’d access notifications on an iPhone or Android device. Mayday is a big deal for Amazon, which recently shared stats about use of the service on its Kindle Fire HDX tablets. The company said that customer service agents generally respond in fewer than 10 seconds, which sounds like magic when you consider how long people generally have to wait on hold — often without even talking to a human — in most customer service scenarios.

Mayday is available free to all owners of the device, but its cost may be built into the cost of ownership; AT&T is going to charge $199 for the entry-level 32GB version, which is right up there with flagship devices from top-tier Android makers and the price of Apple’s iPhone at launch, despite the fact that on paper at least, its internal specs have more in common with last year’s Android flagships than today’s Galaxy S5, HTC One and others.

Fire Phone might need Mayday, too. It has a unique perspective-shifting 3D feature that makes it quite different from ordinary phones, as well as a dedicated Firefly button to let it identify products on the fly. These are not features that smartphone owners will be familiar with, and they could well require some explaining in order for new users to get comfortable operating them.