Amazon Looks to Make Kindle Fire HD Top Kids' Tablet With FreeTime Unlimited

Amazon throws a punch in the battle for the best kid tablet

ByABC News
December 4, 2012, 6:53 PM

Dec. 5, 2012 — -- Of course you know about the ongoing tablet war -- the one where Google, Microsoft and every other major tech company are going after Apple's long-ruling iPad. But there's another battle being fought for the best kids' tablet.

According to Nielsen, kids between the age of 6 and 12 have one major gift request this holiday season: the iPad. Topping children's wish lists are not only Apple's iPad but its iPad Mini and iPod Touch. But the other companies are trying their hardest to get a piece of the kid tablet market.

Today Amazon announced an additional feature for its already kid-friendly Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. While it already offers a FreeTime feature, which provides a special child environment and gives parents control over usage, it is adding FreeTime Unlimited, a service that provides an all-you-can-eat plan for children's books, movies, apps and games.

Those who already have Amazon Prime, a service that includes savings and free shipping on many items for a yearly charge, will be able to get FreeTime Unlimited for $2.99 a month per child or $6.99 a month per family. Those who are not Prime members will have to pay $4.99 per month per child or $9.99 per family.

For those prices, buyers will get unlimited access to most of Amazon's kids' books, including "Big Nate," "Ivy and Bean," and "Phineas & Ferb," and many of its TV shows, including "Barney," "SpongeBob SquarePants," and "Dora the Explorer." Popular kids' apps are also free.

"If you are a parent this lets you sign up for services, get all the content, and trust that it has been curated," Peter Larson, Vice President of Amazon Kindle, told ABC News in an interview. Amazon has also removed the ads in games and apps for FreeTime Unlimited users.

Amazon is hoping that all that will strengthen its offerings in comparison to its competitors. Amazon offers the Kindle Fire for $159, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD for $199, and the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire for $299.

"If you think about it, an all-new Kindle Fire for $159 is a full-fledged tablet for parents, and with FreeTime it magically turns into a tablet that is just for your kids," Larson said. "You can buy a tablet for the whole family." Larson pointed out that with the iPad you can't create separate user accounts for children. He said the design of the Fire, with its Gorilla Glass and rubberized back, make it "almost unbreakable."

In addition to the tablets like the iPad, Nook HD from Barnes & Noble, and the Kindle Fire HD, toy companies like LeapFrog and Toys 'R' Us have put out their own tablets specially for kids.

The war for the little hands and eyes is certainly on.