ó Alexa, meet Alfie.
Holdings, based in suburban Chicago, appears to have
introduced a "voice-controlled intelligent
shopper" that bears more than a passing resemblance
to Amazonís Echo Dot smart speaker and its Alexa
virtual assistant ó albeit without the speaker and
more limited features.
Kenmore-branded device, dubbed Alfie, is being sold on
Kmart and Sears websites and the retailerís Shop Your
Way membership program website.
$49.99, itís considerably cheaper than Amazonís Echo
Dot at $89.99, or the Echo, which has a larger speaker
and sells for $179.99.
Alfie doesnít yet appear able to help with the range
of tasks Alexa can handle.
says Alfie will listen to requests and recommend
products based on the userís preferences, purchase
history and any specified budget. It can also search for
a gift if users describe the occasion and recipient.
Perishable grocery delivery is available in some areas.
with the Echo and Echo Dot, which can be addressed
solely by voice, users need to push a "talk"
button to start recording a request on Alfie. A button
lights up when it finds a match and is ready to respond,
which can take up to 10 minutes, according to a product
can also text with Alfie through an app that shows
conversation history and images of suggested items,
reviews and shipping options, and lets shoppers add
items to a list for later.
not clear how much of Alfie is artificial intelligence
and how much humans are helping fill usersí shopping
product website says Alfie is "backed by real human
intelligence, not just computer processing."
the information on Searsí website, it also appears
Alfie can only help with shopping. Amazonís Echo
products are also speakers, and in addition to ordering
a range of products from Amazon, the companyís virtual
assistant, Alexa, can control music and smart home
devices, answer questions and order you an Uber or a
announced a speaker and virtual assistant last month,
called Google Home, that the company says will be able
to answer questions and control music and connected home
is also getting into the connected home market, but the
company couldnít immediately be reached for comment on
whether Alfie is part of those plans. The company behind
iconic appliance brand Kenmore, Craftsman tools and
DieHard automotive batteries announced 75 new products
yesterday, but Alfie wasnít mentioned in news
is introducing a range of smart-home products, including
a Kenmore refrigerator that notifies owners about power
outages or doors left open, and a Kenmore smart
thermostat that can be adjusted remotely by smartphone
and monitors energy use. The company also said it will
begin selling the first Kenmore televisions and DieHard