AT&T HomeManager: Digital Photo Frame Meets Home Phone

Posted by: Olga Kharif on September 22, 2008

For years now, digital photo frames have struggled to reach the mass market. I know exactly why, because I’ve not bought one: I don’t want to spend $200 on a gadget that only displays videos and photos, even if it can access Picasa online.

Well, photo frames are about to get more useful and turn into full-fledged Internet appliances, competing with the home PC, TV and mobile for users’ time and attention. AT&T’s new HomeManager product, announced today, is a 7-inch photo frame that also offers e-mail access, visual voice mail and home phone calling (check out this page for an online demo). The gadget costs $299 if you sign up for several AT&T services, and it’s available in select cities, like Chicago and Atlanta.

As far as I know, the HomeManager marks the first time for a phone company to distribute photo frames. Though unusual, this distribution arrangement could prove quite effective. After all, it might be more cost-effective to buy the HomeManager than another computer and a new cordless phone.

The device should help solidify AT&T’s position as a telecommunications innovator outside of wireless, where it’s viewed as cutting-edge already, thanks to exclusive products like the innovative Apple iPhone. In home phone services, AT&T still needs to shake off its dusty Baby Bell image. With its Jetsons feel, the HomeManager should prove to be the perfect duster.

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Reader Comments

Alan Weinkrantz

September 22, 2008 08:30 PM

I did a review of the product which includes a YouTube video at:
http://alanweinkrantz.typepad.com/3screens/2008/09/mr-watson----co.html

I am an independent blogger covering AT&T's three screen strategy

stevio

September 23, 2008 09:15 PM

The review (photo frame, calls, email, voicemail ) interested me as I'm thinking of getting a digital photoframe and I have U-Verse. But, AT&T is promoting this a bit more like an extra PC-like device (in the kitchen). Sure it's a Samsung and it can do loads, but to take off it needs to carve out it's own utility and not overlap too much, otherwise I might just put off the $300 purchase and settle for a $100 digital phone frame.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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