In Frontpage Featured Content, Mobile, News

Published on February 5, 2020 By Hans Hartman

[Scroll down for And a few more things… industry news highlights]

A little more than a year ago I described four novel approaches to the concept of digital frames – you know, the framed photo viewing screens that came out in the early 1990s, were rejuvenated in the early 2000s thanks to the internet, and are at the present time yet again evolving by responding of today’s photo & video sharing trends. If you missed that article, I suggest checking it out!

But how popular are these digital frames these days and what types of features could trigger consumers to buy them? While this could be the subject of a dedicated study, I added two digital frames questions to a broader photo survey among 1249 US consumers who take more than 5 photos per month with their smartphone (stay tuned for the announcement of this broader study in the next few weeks).

Here is a quick snapshot of the findings:

First and foremost, how common are digital frames in the US households? While they are certainly not must-have household items, digital frames are owned by 25% of our respondents or their partners.

Question: Do you or your partner own a digital photo frame? (a standalone picture frame that displays photo slideshows)

Does the digital frame ownership vary by gender, age, and having children living in the household?

Yes, we did find significant differences between these respondent segments (i.e. the p value or calculated probability is less than .1), with the differences between households with or without children being the largest (36% of households with children own digital frames vs. 18% of those without children).

Males (or their partners) also more often own digital frames than females, and older respondents or their partners more often own digital frames than those that are younger, but these differences are relatively minor: 28% among males vs. 22% among females; 27% among respondents older than 35 vs. 23% among 18-35-year-olds.

What could trigger today’s consumer to purchase digital frames? To answer that question, we dove into some of the innovation areas that are currently being explored by digital frames vendors. How attractive are they for today’s consumers?

Question: On a scale of 1 to 5, how interested are you in purchasing a digital photo frame that also lets you …

  • Upload photos remotely to photo frames that could be anywhere in the world
  • Add text, voice or video comments to photos shared with other digital photo frame users
  • Conduct Skype-like video calls
  • Use Alexa or Google Assistant to select which photo collections you’d like to view
  • Upload personal videos for viewing on digital frames
  • Watch YouTube or other videos in addition to your personal photos or videos

Each of these potential frame features appear to be attractive to a sizable part of the respondent base with 35% or more of the respondents indicating they are either “interested” or “very interested” in purchasing a digital photo frame if that feature were to be offered. If you also include the “somewhat interested” responses, 55% or more of the respondents are at least somewhat interested in purchasing a digital frame with these potential features).

Three features are significantly more often mentioned than the others:

  • Watch YouTube or other videos in addition to your personal photos or videos
  • Upload personal videos for viewing on digital frames
  • Upload photos remotely to photo frames that could be anywhere in the world

My take: are today’s digital frames the must-have consumer device? Our survey questions clearly indicate that’s not the case, which is no surprise – digital frames have never been mainstream household devices and I don’t expect them to become that in the foreseeable future either. However, digital frames do attract a sizable audience and are especially used in households with children. With a new era unfolding in which AI-powered household devices of all kinds are becoming more common and accepted, two-way instant communication options on a multitude of devices are proliferating, and video capture, sharing and viewing are on the rise, there are exciting new opportunities for innovative digital frames to expand their markets.

Interested in a breakdown of the digital frames purchasing interest question by gender, having children, and agePurchase your Early Bird VIP ticket for Visual 1st 2020, shoot me an email and I’d be happy to forward these data points.

And a few more things…

PDN. Analysis of its demise. PDN’s demise is a symptom of many things wrong in the traditional photo industry – great analysis from Paul Melcher of Visual 1st media partner Kaptur. While many industry observers have shared their commiseration with PDN’s demise, Paul sees it as a symptom of a more fundamental “behind the times” phenomenon in the traditional photo industry – and yes, photo brands Kodak, Shutterstock, Nikon, Canon, and Olympus are all part of his analysis.

CIPA. Along the same lines, new data of the worldwide camera salesthe most dramatic year-over-year decline in the past decade. Digital still camera sales decreased by approximately 14% year-over-year. DSLR unit sales dropped almost 34%, while their value dropped roughly 28%. Prematurely heralded as the industry savior, mirrorless camera unit sales dropped by 10%, but the value of their sales increased by almost 6%, i.e. mirrorless cameras are sold at higher prices to fewer customers – not a recipe for future growth.

GoogleGoogle Photos and print subscriptions. At Visual 1st and in our Visual 1st Perspectives newsletter we have repeatedly stressed both the paradigm-shifting impact of image recognition and that of subscriptions. (See also the newly announced data from Sensor TowerU.S. subscription app revenue by the top 100 subscription apps grew by 21% last year to reach over $4.6 billion in 2019.) Well, Google Photos is testing combining image recognition with that of print product subscriptions – and the competing photo print product vendors are holding their breath.

GoogleGoogle Photos and visual memoriesGoogle Photos’ Superbowl ad generated very strong reactions. The debate is a familiar one: Google’s technology enriches/simplifies your life vs. Google monetizes your data. What’s new though was Google’s focus in this commercial on how the Google Photos technology could benefit the elderly – a demographic too often ignored.

PinterestUS Pinterest users can now use AR to try on lipstick from brands such as Bare Minerals, Estée Lauder, Sephora, Neutrogena and L’Oréal, and then swipe up to shop on the brand’s site. Jewelry try-ons will follow in the near future. While certainly not first to market with this type of use case (e.g. YouCam Makeup has been offering virtual makeup for a long time), Pinterest’s scale, user demographics and visual search prowess makes Pinterest a powerful entrant.

The Imaging Innovation Conference (IIC) @ photokinaCall for speakers. Have innovative imaging technology, products or services to demo or discuss? Let me know – I’ll be hosting several sessions at the new IIC conference, a one-day conference that will be held the day before photokina, May 26, in Cologne, Germany.

Visual 1st 2020. Mark your calendar: Visual 1st 2020 will be Oct. 14-15 this year. Hope to see you there!

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Hans Hartman

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