One in ten homes has a digital photo frame

Sklya's FS80 digital photo frame includes a scanner for digitising prints
Sklya's FS80 digital photo frame includes a scanner for digitising prints

Brits are snapping up digital photo frames faster than ever, according to high tech analysts Futuresource Consulting.

More than 1.8 million units were sold in the UK during 2008, at an average retail price of around £90, and frames are now present in an estimated ten per cent of UK homes.

"Fuelled by a glut of low-cost 7-inch widescreen offerings from a number of brands and retailers sales grew 60 per cent in 2008 from 2007," says Simon Bryant, Principal Consultant, Futuresource Consulting.

A picture paints a thousand presents

"The market continues to be heavily reliant on gifting and first-time impulse buyers who are lured by broad distribution and very low prices. Between Christmas 2007 and 2008, like-for-like prices fell roughly 20 per cent for the most popular 7-inch widescreen frames."

While top tier brands like Sony, Samsung, Kodak, Philips, and Toshiba increased their combined share of sales between 2007 and 2008 (from 42 to 54 per cent), no-name and own-brand frames continue to sell well.

Futuresource expects convergence products that incorporate photo frame functionality, such as connected TVs, netbooks and the iPod Touch, to erode gradually erode sales of dedicated frame.

Bryant say, "Even by the end of this year - when we're going to see the market grow to around 2m to 2.2m units - we'll see crossover products that will beg the question 'is it a photo frame or an alarm clock radio, a personal multimedia player or a portable TV?'"

Kodak has just licensed its OLED technology to LG for use in photo frames, and Wi-Fi, video-capable and even internet radio streaming frames expected to take market share throughout 2009.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.