Polaroid kicks the bucket

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by RichA, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. RichA

    RichA Guest

    By Hiawatha Bray
    Globe Staff / February 8, 2008

    Polaroid Corp., the Massachusetts company that gave the world instant
    film photography, is shutting down its film manufacturing lines in the
    state and abandoning the technology that made the company famous.

    "The Norwood plant is shutting down, and we will soon be winding down
    activities at the Waltham facility as well," said Kyle MacDonald,
    senior vice president of Polaroid's instant photography business
    segment. The closures, set for completion during this quarter, will
    eliminate about 150 jobs. In the late 1970s, Polaroid employed about
    15,000 in Massachusetts.

    The Norwood and Waltham plants make large-format films used by
    professional photographers and artists. Polaroid also makes
    professional-grade films in Mexico, and its consumer film packs come
    from a factory in the Netherlands. All these plants are slated for
    closure this year. Polaroid chief operating officer Tom Beaudoin said
    the company is interested in licensing its technology to an outside
    firm that could manufacture film for faithful Polaroid customers. If
    that doesn't happen, Polaroid users would have to find an alternative
    photo technology, as the company plans to make only enough film to
    last into next year.

    Polaroid has already quietly halted production of instant cameras. "We
    stopped making commercial-type cameras about 18 to 24 months ago, and
    we stopped making consumer cameras about a year ago," said Beaudoin.

    "It's about time," said Ron Glaz, director of digital imaging program
    at IDC Corp. "The fact that they're getting out of film makes complete

    In the years following World War II, Polaroid's instant photography
    products established the company as one of Massachusetts' leading
    industrial concerns, and made its brand name famous worldwide. But in
    the late 1980s the company went deeply into debt to fend off a hostile
    takeover. It invested heavily in products that failed and was
    unprepared for the surging popularity of digital cameras. By 2001,
    Polaroid was forced into bankruptcy; privately held Petters Group
    Worldwide of Minnetonka, Minn., bought the company's remaining assets
    in 2005.

    The Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
    is providing employment assistance to laid-off workers, some of whom
    were warned about the cuts two years ago. Along with standard job-
    placement services, the state agency joined with Worcester Polytechnic
    Institute last year to retrain laid-off Polaroid workers for
    manufacturing jobs at biotechnology companies. About 30 workers have
    been retrained under the program so far.

    The company will retain about 150 executive and administrative
    employees at its headquarters in Concord and a smaller office in
    Waltham. "We'll continue to have a strong presence in Massachusetts
    for the next 30 or 40 years," said Beaudoin. But Polaroid will now
    focus on flat-panel TVs and digital photography gear.

    Polaroid has also struck an alliance with Zink Imaging Inc. of
    Bedford, a company founded by former Polaroid scientists and
    executives. Zink makes a system that generates pocket-sized prints of
    digital photos. Polaroid will begin selling Zink photo printers under
    its brand name this year.

    Ed Lee, a digital photography analyst at InfoTrends Inc. in Weymouth,
    said the Zink printer could have a bright future in the long run. But
    he said the current model, which produces images about the size of a
    business card, probably won't appeal to the mass market. "I don't see
    a lot of people using it for printing photos that will wind up in
    photo albums," he said.

    IDC's Glaz added that sales of home photo printers have slowed in
    recent years. He said today's consumers prefer to look at photos on
    their computer screens, and are more likely to say, "E-mail that to
    me, rather than give me a hard copy."
    RichA, Feb 10, 2008
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  2. RichA

    Doug Jewell Guest

    I was talking to a rep from the Australian distributor of
    Polaroid recently - he said that the last 6 months of '07
    have seen a strong upsurge in sales of polaroid instant film
    and of the cameras. When I asked him if he knew why, he said
    he didn't know, it just seemed to be taking off again. He
    thought maybe it was the nostalgia aspect perhaps.

    I wonder if some commercial users had been tipped off that
    it was going to die, and so were starting to buy up?
    Doug Jewell, Feb 10, 2008
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  3. RichA

    Paul Furman Guest

    I have seen people into it for the hip factor I guess (not complaining)
    ....rather serious artsy photography student types. I understood they
    were getting the film for the old Polaroid cameras from another
    manufacturer but I'm not at all sure about that.
    Paul Furman, Feb 10, 2008
  4. RichA

    Tony Polson Guest

    Some of the Polaroid instant films have been manufactured under
    contract by Fuji for some years now. I don't know which ones, though.
    Tony Polson, Feb 10, 2008
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