Amazon on Fire: New Kindle tablets offer offline videos, live support

Tech and retail behemoth Amazon sells and offers just about anything one can think of, but many of its competitors are also big and are diversifying. Now it’s offering what others haven’t so far: offline video viewing for Prime Instant Video customers using its new Kindle Fire HDX tablets, plus live, round-the-clock video support for the tablets that users can access with a push of a button.

The Seattle company announced the new offerings along with its rollout of the new Kindle Fires. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said on the company’s website that the support feature, which it calls Mayday, is “revolutionary.” You know, for those tablet emergencies.

Now, about the ability to download movies and shows to the new tablets. It’s something Netflix and Hulu don’t offer, but it’s an intriguing development in a few ways. It has licensing implications — not all content is available for offline viewing. But it opens up a new way for the entertainment industry to distribute and presumably wring revenue from their content. Does Amazon have the advantage when it comes to such deals, or is it something Netflix and Hulu could also explore? Hulu, for example, is jointly owned by Disney, NBC and Fox. And as most tech observers know, Netflix has pushed video streaming — and how. Would it even think about going the offline route?

Another interesting aspect is the move of streaming to offline. The new Kindle Fires can be more competitive to Apple iPads in this way. Obviously we can’t be connected to the Internet all the time, such as when we’re taking a break from civilization but catching up on movies we’ve been intending to watch, or traveling. And Amazon’s new offering could be more cost-effective in the long run because of the flat, $79 annual Prime subscription when compared with individual movie or show downloads from iTunes, or Amazon itself. (Although the downloads that come from Prime are limited to 30 days and must be watched within 48 hours of the first viewing.)

By the way, YouTube also recently announced offline viewing for some videos. But Brandon Bailey wrote for SiliconBeat that it doesn’t include movies or shows it rents or sells.

 

Photo:  The new 8.9-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, center, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX, left, and the updated Kindle HD. (Amazon.com via Associated Press)

 

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (3903 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay (at) bayareanewsgroup (dot-com).