Digital photo frames fading out of the picture

Before tablets and e-readers, digital photo frames conquered the consumer electronics market as one of the more affordable and useful new-age technological devices. Digital photo frames rose to popularity in 2006 when sales totaled 180 million U.S. dollars that year, according to Statista. But digital photo frames have fallen by the wayside among the other consumer electronics up for Title 20 standards.

Getting up to standard

The California Energy Commission plans to reveal its decision on which consumer electronics will receive Title 20 energy efficiency standards later this month. As stakeholders await decisions on computers, set-top boxes, and game consoles, the displays category has slid to the bottom of the list with the category’s digital photo frames barely mentioned.

A digital photo frame stays on to produce an ongoing image for the viewer without being turned on. Some digital photo frames sense a person’s presence and show an image. Power modes (on, off, and standby) and display resolution and size are the main features looked at for better efficiency.

Kodak’s 2011 comments on display standards for Energy Star showed its digital picture frames without sensors consumed 0.23 watts in sleep mode and the frames with sensors consumed 0.78 watts, an increase of 0.55 watts. Energy Star eventually certified products with small displays that use 0.5 watts or less while on and in sleep mode.

Under Energy Star, digital photo frames join computer monitors and professional signage in displays, which is the reason why the Energy Commission added them to the Title 20 yearlong rulemaking process. Last July, the Energy Commission accepted proposals on possible standards for consumer electronics, and digital photo frames faded in the background of computer monitors and electronic signage.

Overshadowed by competitors

In the early 2000s, digital photo frames entered the market, making them older than other everyday gadgets like smartphones and tablets. Their sales didn’t take off until 2006. By 2009, digital photo frames were getting better screen resolution and Internet connectivity features, but that’s when tablets and e-readers began to come out and stomp the digital photo frame market. And for some companies, digital photo frames evolved into electronic signage for businesses. And for some consumers, tablets trumped digital photo frames.

A 2011 InfoTrends survey showed 26% of households owned digital photo frames compared to 19% in 2010. For the past two years, there hasn’t been much information available on the sales of digital photo frames in the United States.

The digital photography market is projected to reach $82.6 billion by 2016 with a 6% annual growth rate, according to Transparency Market Research. Though digital photo frames belong in this market, the figure mostly focuses on digital cameras, lenses, printers, storage cards, and photo editing software. More people post digital photos online through social media like Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest than print and place photos in digital photo frames.

The Environmental Protection Agency found if all digital picture frames sold in the U.S. were Energy Star-certified, the energy cost savings would topple $55 million a year.

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