Will the iPad Kill the Digital Photo Frame Category?

by Harry Wang | Jan. 27, 2010

With much fanfare, Steve Jobs unveiled his new darling today—a much-hyped iPad. It’s a big iPod Touch for sure. For now, the iPad appears to wow netbook and Kindle users, but intentionally or not, the iPad could lead to a sea change to the designs of a more established product category: digital photo frame.

With a dock and purportedly 10-hour battery life, the iPad can be used as a photo frame when owners are not actively using it. It won’t be the major function of the iPad, but photo frame vendors should not dismiss it simply because it is priced much higher than every frame on the market today. Reasons are:

1. It is multifunctional than most frames on the market
2. It has the built-in connectivity AND rich content that many frames lack today
3. Its design is more contemporary and elegant than most frames today
4. Don’t forget Apple is famous for dropping the price to drive adoption

Whether the iPad will have a runaway success with consumers is difficult to predict today, and it may not threaten digital photo frame sales in the near term. But the frame industry may take cues from iPad’s design to consider changes in the following ways:

1. Remove the traditional stand, replace it with a cradle or dock so the frame can be positioned as a portable device; make it thinner and lighter
2. Adopt the battery technology that iPad uses
3. Give the frame a more Internet-tablet look versus a plain frame appearance
4. Add more content choices and easy sync functions either over the air (which means adding wireless connectivity) or USB

The mainstream frame business is now a low price, low margin sector, and high-end products lack the content that consumers perceive as valuable. For those who try to differentiate, the iPad is the clear direction to go before it is too late.

Tags: mobile, tablets

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