Arguably the most interesting thing about the new Kindle Fire "HDX" tablets is the so-called "Mayday" button. By pressing a single button HDX owners will see a live human appear in a pop-up window on their screens, as the picture to the right illustrates.
That individual can answer questions and perform diagnostic functions or fixes remotely. And while Amazon Kindle users can see the agent, the customer support person cannot see the Kindle owner (thereby preventing certain unseemly "chatroulette scenarios"). Amazon says most questions or issues are or can be resolved in relatively little time. Live support is free/included and available "24x7, 365 days a year."
One review of the HDX questioned how scalable this service is. I suspect it's pretty scalable, especially if they offshore the support centers. But given that one can see the person on the other end of the line, offshoring may be less viable for something like this. In his post on the Opus Research Web site, my colleague Dan Miller sees the potential for a speech-enabled, automated personal virtual assistant to populate the agent screen.
My hunch is that Mayday will become a premium service or included with a Prime subscription ultimately.
What's more interesting to consider is how Mayday might become a new model for customer service and/or sales support for tablet and mobile apps. Think about how much more e-commerce and conversions might happen if live support were available. In a mobile context "chat" doesn't really cut it.
There are various in-between scenarios possible too, where a static image might be used instead of video together with a VoIP call. That would be the "low rent" version but it could be equally effective if executed properly.
The success of Mayday and its emulation or replication by others would be a new spin on and give new meaning to the notion of the "personal virtual assistant."