Vendors Hoping To Ride Rising Digital Frame Tide

By Greg Scoblete On Apr 23 2007 - 6:00am

More than 1.7 million digital photo frames were sold in the United States in 2006, according to the research firm Parks Associates.

Hoping to capitalize on the market's expansion, battery firm CTA Digital announced its first digital frames while Toronto-based Fidelity Electronics expanded operations into the United States on the back of several new introductions.

The numbers from Parks Associates represent a substantial upwards revision of the firm's earlier forecast. In all, the digital frame category grew 400 percent from 2005 to 2006.

"The most significant factors contributing to this growth are expanded retail availability, decreased price and consumer interest in new gift ideas," said Harry Wang, Parks Associates research analyst, in a statement announcing the findings.

Thanks to the category's growth, Parks is predicting a 50 percent cumulative average growth rate into 2010. Unit sell through should reach roughly 8.7 million units in the United States by 2010, Wang told TWICE.

Pacific Digital and Pandigital were the leading vendors, Wang said.

The market does run the risk of over-crowding, Wang cautioned.

"Some of the smaller players will drop out of the market soon because of resource bottlenecks and margin pressure," he said. "Manufacturers should take this opportunity to improve their product designs. Learn from Apple — curb your enthusiasm to be the first in the market and go back to the fundamentals in design and functionality."

CTA Digital will ship its first line of digital photo frames in April.

The line will include three models. A 15-inch frame, for a suggested $349, features a 1,024 by 768 resolution TFT LCD screen. It accepts the popular flash-memory formats and can connect to PCs via USB.

The frame can playback MP3 audio files and MPEG-1/-2/-4 video files.

The company will also introduce a $99 7-inch frame with a screen resolution of 480 by 234. It supports the popular flash-memory formats and PC connectivity via USB. The unit can also playback MP3 audio and MPEG-1/-2/-4 video. It will feature two interchangeable frames.

Finally, CTA will offer a heart-shaped digital frame necklace, which displays images on a 1.1-inch LCD. It can store up to 60 images on internal memory and features a rechargeable lithium battery. It will be available in pink, white and black.

Fidelty Electronics will support a recently announced line of six digital frames with a new U.S. distribution center in Buffalo, N.Y.

The top-line frame (DPF-1000PF) sports a 10.4-inch display and 1GB of internal memory. It will retail for $399.

The 10.4-inch DOF-1000F is designed for business use and offers a two-hour rechargeable battery and 256MB of internal memory.

Another 10.4-inch model, the DPF-1050F, features a VGA resolution TFT LCD screen and a memory card reader for CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SD/MMC, SmartMedia and xD Picture Cards. In addition to displaying JPEG image files up to 12-megapixels in resolution, the unit can play MPEG-1/-2/-4 video and MP3 music files through built-in speakers. It offers 256MB worth of internal memory.

The company will also offer three 7-inch models. The 7-inch DPF-7000F displays images stored on camera memory cards. The 7-inch DPF-7010F builds of the 7000 with "enhanced" software and a remote control, the company said. It features a screen resolution of 1,440 by 234 with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The DPF-7050F, another 7-inch model, offers the ability to playback audio and video files, packs 256MB of internal memory with slots for memory cards and a USB port. It ships with two interchangeable frames.

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