retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Polaroid photo is back.

Fast Company writes about Polaroid Lab, a new gadget scheduled to be released next month, that takes a retro approach to photography.

Basically, the Polaroid Lab allows a person to take a picture on a smart phone and then use an iPhone or Android app “to transfer it onto a piece of proudly analog Polaroid instant film,” where it then develops “in classic fashion.”

The story goes on: “For those without an existing affinity for instant photography in its traditional form, the whole idea of turning a digital photo into a chemistry-based snapshot may sound like a backward act of hipsterism, akin to pressing your MP3 collection onto vinyl. But what the Lab does, it does well. And analog instant photography - a medium even Polaroid itself once left for dead - has snapped back to life, giving the Lab a shot at success.”

Essentially, Fast Company writes, “The Lab dials back the ephemeral nature of modern photography by encouraging you to choose your most meaningful pictures and give them permanent form.”

Wait a minute. The photos on my phone aren’t permanent?

The thing about this story is that it just reminds us of how companies like Polaroid, which got on the map because they innovated, were unable to maintain that culture in their companies and eventually became virtually obsolete. In Polaroid’s case, it went bankrupt twice.

Look, I hope they’re successful, just like I hope most companies are successful. I love a comeback story.

But I’m dubious, if only because I’m just not sure that the culture is crying out for print pictures that are “almost (but not quite) square, with a distinctive white border that’s thicker at the bottom than on the other sides.”

Turntables and vinyl records are making a comeback because audiophiles maintain they offer superior sound quality. I’m not entirely sure that Polaroid will be able to make the same claim. But we’ll see.

However it turns out, one way or the other it’ll be an Eye-Opener from which we all can take a lesson.
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