May 10, 2022
The waters are as muddy as ever in the digital canvas and NFT display world. The past few months have seen plenty of new entrants to the space but no one frame has emerged as the pinnacle digital art frame. In fact, at times it would appear that manufacturers are competing with themselves just as much as each other.
Shipping delays have caused headaches for early adopters and those that have shipped have encountered some issues upon delivery. However, a clear theme has emerged across the market. With each new digital art frame announced, it becomes clear that the user is at the center of the design. Ease of connectivity and wallet authentication in particular have become clear industry standards early on. Companies who are able to extend this mindset to their customer service departments will be the ones best equipped to navigate a choppy release and carve out their market share.
Digital Canvas Market Gets Competitive
The space has exploded with new options coming to market. These have ranged from companies launching full lines with various sizes with plenty of add-ons to more simple approaches.
Canvia has walked the line between these well. While they only offer one size frame (with four different finish options), they provide a forward thinking digital canvas. They certainly had a headstart on the market, launching before NFTs had come anywhere close to the mainstream, but their Art Sense technology really sets a high bar. The digital canvas automatically adjusts to the ambient light around it so that the image is always displayed optimally.
Tokenframe took a big swing when they launched. Their first wave of displays included five different sizes which has since been adjusted and added to with the company now offering six different sizes. This is among the most ambitious lines in terms of scope. The varying price points give folks the ability to pick up a great display that fits within their budget. While the extensive line-up does put Tokenframe at the mercy of the supply chain, they have so far been able to handle issues while providing a digital canvas that has lived up to expectations.
Tokenframe also has included some slick design features that give collectors some options when they use the display. Onboard speakers ensure that folks won’t miss out on any audio components attached to pieces in their collection. A distinctive feature on Tokenframe digital canvas’ is the 90° swivel tech (each unit ships with a swivel wall mount). The swivel tech allows users to change the digital canvas’ orientation from portrait to landscape simply by (you guessed it) swiveling the frame. This was a smart nod to the artists in the space by making it easy to display the work properly.
Lago and Blockframe have taken a tactic similar to Canvia’s – deliver one or a few frames that display digital art and NFTs immaculately. Each offers their own twists with Blockframe offering a tiered selection where Lago offers one screen with an exceptional audio add-on designed by Master & Dynamic.
Lago appeals to collectors whose wallets are music NFT heavy. Some may see this as a bit too much of an add-on as the speaker will run you another $1000 on top of the $9000 sticker price on the frame. While its a steep price, the immersive sound will be well worth it to those whose digital canvas experience would be incomplete without it.
Blockframe is unique in that they offer connectivity to Ethereum, Solana, and Tezos while most of their competitors have focused on Ethereum. The frame’s ability to cast from different blockchains and wallets tips the scales in their favor when marketing to people who have chased projects across these blockchains and want to proudly display their art.
We would be remiss if we didn’t count the tabletop options that have bubbled up as the digital art space has grown. Infinite Objects arguably has the most name recognition at the moment, but that could change. Much like their wall mounted counterparts, the competition in the tabletop space has grown thicker (even Tokenframe offers a table top model).
MyMoMint jumped in with their MVP model that beautifully displays NBA Top Shot pieces. They have chosen to ride a middle line between sports memorabilia collectors and digital art. While not as focused on the work of creators, the images play to the nostalgia of sports card collecting. The device also keeps an arms length away from being a true web3 blockchain device.
Nifted may well supplant MyMoMint’s aim to be a bridge into digital art. On top of displaying NBA Top Shot, Nifted supports the Ethereum blockchain. This makes it a great device for those who are bitten by the collector bug and have several pieces they wish to display. Plus the Ethereum connectivity makes the device the perfect vessel to get those into sports collecting into NFTs as they will already have a way to display, making them more tangible in the holder’s mind.
Supply and Demand tests Early Promises
Big promises have created scores of frustrated consumers as many companies have under-delivered on those promises. Supply chain issues are still abound globally which has put a squeeze on many of these manufacturers as they rush to meet their ship dates. Many have seen delays in shipping, causing some disillusionment among customers and in the process burning whatever brand loyalty companies may have earned pre-launch.
We all agree that blockchain technology will change the world, but one thing it won’t change is the frustration that folks feel spending hard earned money on a product (or the delivery of) that does not live up to their expectations. In this space, Twitter and Discord updates (no matter how frequent) will be no substitute for one on one issue resolutions. It may feel very old school given how the entire space has sprung up, but it is an inescapable truth.
It’s still early and a lot can be smoothed over with quality customer service. This is an aspect where digital canvas and frame makers can learn a lesson that many pfp projects had to learn the hard way. We can all name a project that launched with big aspirations only to peter out after launch. Holders would become aggravated as projects would ultimately be abandoned. By the very nature of producing a physical product, digital art frame builders don’t have the option to shutter their doors after release. The companies that are able to address the issues they have faced head on and own them will be just fine.
Designed with the User in Mind
This has been the most fascinating aspect to watch over the past few months. As new brands launch, some things have become abundantly clear. First, the user experience is well thought out and is at the forefront of design (as it should be). Second, wallet authentication and proof of ownership are now an industry standard. While this was predictable, it’s worth noting how quickly it was embraced as a crucial factor to separate digital art displays and canvases from smart screens.
Nearly every digital canvas coming to market relies on a mobile app to connect and control the display. Many have touted this feature in describing how easy it is to cast digital art and NFTs to their respective devices. Keeping the digital canvas’ as ‘plug & play’ as possible puts consumers at ease. Like with any other electronic device you purchase for your home, the less cumbersome the setup, the better.
Authentication reigns supreme. It protects both artists and holders from unauthorized use of the work in question. Artists are protected from losing out on any royalties they may be owed as only the owner of the work will be able to display it Holders are also protected from unauthorized use of work that they have purchased. Not only will they avoid liability should anyone ‘right click + save’ a work they own, but they have the peace of mind that the work is only available in spaces they wish it to be. To see this aspect taken as seriously as it has been has been a very positive sign that most display makers are fans first.
With so many new companies launching, there is no clear winner. With increasing competition and supply chain issues slowing both assembly and shipping, the fight is still on for every brand that has brought a digital canvas to market. That battle will only continue to rage as even more competitors announce their arrival.
However, these struggles present an opportunity for brands to build some loyalty among consumers. The companies who make things right, even if they initially fall short of promises made, will do a lot for their reputation at a time where every company seeks to build a good rapport with consumers. Sometimes it’s not about what happened but how you fix it and the digital art canvas and display space will see which companies take this to heart early on.
The user is at the center of it all, with design elements pointed towards easy setup and connectivity to their wallets as well as the protections afforded through wallet verification. This is where the space sets itself apart from smart screens and proves that there is a viable market for digital art displays. People want peace of mind, from creators to holders, and there are many wonderful options available.
What’s next for digital art displays? In a word, plenty. Many companies are rushing to bring their displays to market as more still announce their upcoming projects. It is a critical time for all though, as the market is risking saturation and those who were early to market would do well to protect the share they have carved for themselves.
Next up – Summer 2022 – Our August piece will introduce phygitals, keep your eyes peeled for reviews in the meantime!
Digital Art and Frame Co is the authority for digital art canvas and NFT displays, providing expert reviews and analysis on the market and its relationship to web3. We are building a network of Learn-Discover-Enjoy Hotspots nationwide to share the amazing potential of blockchain technology while celebrating stunning artwork. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, some links may be affiliated with DAFCO or a Hotspot.