Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.
Back in September, Amazon announced its new Kindle FreeTime feature, a profile set-up designed to help parents monitor when their kids are using tablets and what exactly they’re using them for.
In a nutshell, the feature lets parents set limits on how long their kids can use the tablet and even allows them to limit by specific features. There’s also a kid-friendly interface for parents to visually track what their kids are doing more easily.
Earlier this morning Amazon announced the next phase for this feature, Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, which is what the Internet giant is calling an “all-you-can-eat content service” for kids, on the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.
Kids: The untapped market
Other digital services have been offering kid-focused content for a while, for example Netflix has ‘Just for Kids,’ which it has been rolling out to multiple platforms over the last few months, including iPads, while Hulu recently added a kid-friendly section to its premium offering.
So, while expensive gadgets and connected devices may typically have been designed with teenagers and adults in mind, it’s clear that there is a huge untapped market for kids. And given Amazon’s finger is in both the hardware and content pie, it’s in a pretty strong position to carve a sizable niche for itself in the children’s entertainment market.
FreeTime Unlimited means that kids have their own profiles with their own library of content. Even if they don’t have their own Kindle, they can still have their own dedicated portal on a shared family device. Moreover, all the apps in the kids’ section have had advertising, social media and in-app payments removed.
The Amazon land-grab
FreeTime Unlimited will be available for Kindle Fire as part of an over-the-air software update that will be automatically delivered in the coming weeks. After receiving the software update, customers can sign up for FreeTime Unlimited from within the Kindle FreeTime app on their device.
If the original FreeTime launch was designed to help parents keep tabs on their kids’ activities, the latest announcement builds on this functionality to offer a subscription service aimed squarely at the 3-8 age group. And the potential implications of this are big.
While FreeTime lets parents control and monitor the content consumed, FreeTime Unlimited reels in child-focused entertainment, including books, games, educational apps, movies and so on. Similar to the costs of the Kindle Fire/HD, the pricing is set at a level which will likely see significant uptake among families – it costs $2.99 per child or $6.99 for an entire family for Amazon Prime members per month. For Non-Prime subscribers, it’ll cost $4.99 and $9.99 respectively.
The Kindle Fire starts at around $160, which is significantly less than the likes of the cheapest iPad mini…more than half, as it happens. So Amazon already had a strong proposition for parents looking for an affordable tablet, plus they’d be more inclined to give an electronic gadget to a clumsy kid if it’s not a wallet-breaker.
Now with FreeTime Unlimited, it has gone some way towards sweetening the deal even more…just in time for Christmas, too, which isn’t a coincidence. Faced with the tough decision of what to get your young ‘uns for the big day, the monthly kid-focused content underpinned by a pretty robust parental control system, this could see a lot of children waking up with an Amazon tablet in their stocking on December 25.
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