Picture This

2006 was a watershed year for digital photo frames, according to Dallas-based market research company Parks Associates. Sales of digital photo frames in the first half of 2006 showed a typical growth curve and then skyrocketed. During the second half of 2006, led by holiday fourth quarter business, sales leaped to a record level, with most suppliers reporting triple-digit unit growth.


Dive deeper into the report and you find some interesting detail. An owner analysis reveals that two-thirds of electronic photo frame owners are gift recipients rather than purchasers. That means someone thought the frame would be a great gift for someone else--but the owner didn't necessarily share that view. 

You can lump me into the picture. I thought a digital photo frame would make a great gift for my mom. I could stuff a 1-gigabyte SD card into the 7-inch Westinghouse frame and Mom could go a whole day without seeing the same photo twice. Sure enough, when I gave her the frame she was intrigued. She looked through the photos and commented on each one. 

Then the appeal began to fade. Next time I visited, the frame was turned off. Most recently, the photo frame had joined the stack of discarded electronics in the basement. My mom had found the power drain, futzing and clutter too much to deal with.

Most of the other products in the discard pile, though, had enjoyed a much longer run. The Zenith console TV was our family's first color model back in the late '60s and it only recently lost sound. The Panasonic portable cassette deck served as the family beach music system for well over a decade. The Panasonic VCR became dispensable by the arrival of the DVD but served for many useful years. The Go Video DVD/VCR was replaced for space savings by a Toshiba combo TV/DVD/VCR.

The photo frame, though, appears to have been discarded out of disinterest.

I can't help but wonder how many of those other unsolicited digital photo frames will wind up in people's basements.--Rebecca Day