Amazon has a habit of releasing some very functional mobile apps that subtly encourage customers to use their site more often. Of course the fact that they do this by making these apps into genuinely useful ways to save money makes it rather hard to fault them on it. The most recent of these, and the first one to be released specifically for owners of the new Kindle Fire, is the completely free Amazon Santa app.
At the most basic level, it’s nothing more than a pleasantly festive holiday wallpaper thrown across an Amazon.com wishlist building application. It provides the user with a few categories – Music, Books, Video Games, Toys & Games, Movies & TV, Everything Else – to flip through, which can be run through endlessly (or close enough based on my experimenting and the claim of over 500,000 listed products). Presumably these are sorted out based on current popularity, since the product page notes that dynamic updating is a part of the experience.
The reason I consider this one worth recommending, despite having a fairly narrow range of application, is the appeal to children for the benefit of parents. The Amazon Santa app lets each kid pick out their own favorites in a separate wish list, then send it off to Santa. While I can’t necessarily vouch for anything that is happening in the North Pole, I can definitely confirm that Amazon will send along some notice to the Kindle Fire owner’s registered email account. This includes a short list of selections from the list, a link to the full list, and other relavent information.
It’s worth noting at this point that the company is quick to explain how their privacy applies to kids. Specifically, that no information is in any way linked to the individual identity of a child on Amazon’s part. Also, that it is preferred for parents to handle all naming of wish lists and registration of accounts under their own names. While it is always tricky to market anything toward children in a manner that might pass on important information, in this case it would be difficult to think of Amazon picking up anything unless a parent goes out of their way to put a real name on the related list.
Now, I’ll openly add the disclaimer that I do not personally have children, nor do I do any particularly intensive shopping for the ones I am related to. That aside, the parents I know were quite fond of the idea and their children (all ages 5-12) had no trouble using the app. I’m told that at least one friend now has trouble retrieving her Kindle as a result, but that’s a completely unrelated problem
The reviews among the broader audience are generally positive, 4 Stars at the time I’m writing this, but there are a couple complaints. There isn’t sorting, nor can you really narrow down what you want to look at beyond the main categories. You also will not be able to make use of the app unless you happen to have a Kindle Fire or an iPad. Definitely important things to note, but if you have the opportunity I would definitely give this one a try. The value is great, especially considering the price.