Amazon launches Kindle content service for kids

NEW YORK — Amazon is launching a subscription service for children’s games, videos and books aimed at getting more kids to use its Kindle Fire tablet devices.

Amazon.com Inc. announced Wednesday that the Kindle FreeTime Unlimited service will be available in the next few weeks as part of an automatic software update.

Amazon said subscribers will have access to “thousands” of pieces of content, though the company did not give a specific number. Kids will be able to watch, play and read any of the content available to them as many times as they want. Parents can set time limits, however.

The service, aimed at kids aged 3 to 8, will cost $4.99 per month for one child. It’ll cost $2.99 per child for members of Amazon Prime, the company’s premium shipping service. Amazon Prime costs $79 per year for free shipping of merchandise purchased in the company’s online store.

Family plans for up to six kids will cost $9.99 per month and $6.99 for Prime members.

The Kindle already allows for parental controls through its FreeTime service. Parents can set up profiles for up to six children and add time limits to control how long kids can spend reading, watching videos or using the Kindle altogether. With the content subscription service, kids can browse age-appropriate videos, games and books and pick what they want to see. They won’t be shown ads and will be prevented from accessing the Web or social media. Kids also won’t be able to make payments within applications.

Amazon is launching the service as competition heats up in the tablet market among Apple, Barnes &Noble, Microsoft and Samsung. Amazon’s strategy is to offer the Kindle at a relatively low price and make money selling the content.

Offering a subscription service aimed at kids helps set the Kindle apart from its many competitors.

“We hope that our devices are really, really attractive for families,” said Peter Larsen, vice president of Amazon’s Kindle business.

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