IQ News: Alfy.com Reaches Kids, Wordlessly

Entering an increasingly crowded kids’ market on the Web, edutainment site Alfy.com launches today. The new kids’ Web portal, aimed at children age 3-10, hopes to distinguish itself from the recent glut of kids’ online diversions with its colorful, graphic interface that lets even pre-readers search the Web.
“The Internet is a great learning tool, but most younger kids can’t use it,” said Robyn Kerner, vice president of marketing at Alfy.com. “Most kids are stumped when they have to spell a word or process through reams of information.”
Alfy.com has eliminated the need for reading or writing skills when making online searches by arranging its kid-centric content and sites in 17 categories and 20 sub-categories with illustrated buttons that link to different areas of kid interest. For example, content and site links about “space” can be accessed via a drawing of an astronaut. An advisory board composed of teachers and child psychologists hand pick the offerings in the site’s directory.
The Web site plans to derive future revenue from advertising, but for now it has inked e-commerce affiliate deals with Amazon.com, CDnow and eToys. Kerner said Alfy.com also has an eye toward offering premium content for a fee some time in the future. Kerner could not name content partners, but said there would be alliances announced later this summer.
In addition to a Net search engine, Alfy.com will offer learning games for very young children and arcade games and personalized e-mail for older kids. In the coming weeks, the site’s mascot, an anthropomorphic dog-like character named Alfy, will be sound enabled.
Alfy.com faces competition from more established online brands for kids such as Disney.com and NickJr.com, which also target children as young as 3 years old, but Kerner believes that Alfy will soon become a recognizable icon for mini-Web surfers to explore the Internet.
“Psychologists have told us that kids are really into the process of searching. They like clicking through and learning how to get to places. When you have all that textual information, it’s just not a fun process for kids; it becomes very clinical,” said Kerner.-Kipp Cheng