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    Confused Polaroid To Open Photo Printing Stores

    Written by

    Michael Byrne


    It's always a bit of a bummer browsing used cameras at the thrift/antique store and seeing that half of the stock is old Polaroid analog 600s going for like 90 cents, and knowing that a pack of film for them from the Impossible Project would cost nearly $30. Which is, sadly, not within the boundaries of my disposable income puddle at this very moment. Polaroid has, of course, stopped production of its classic cameras and film--leaving only IP's re-engineered instant analog product and old film on eBay--in favor of digital products, including "fake" instant cameras that are really just digital cameras with wee photo printers attached (instead of the instant and unpredictable analog developing that made classic Polaroid pictures fun and interesting).   

    It would appear that the portable photo printing market isn't paying Polaroid's bills either. Meet Fotobar, the company's new line of photo printing retail stores based on its online photo printing service. Exuding beat-to-hell Apple-store-hip (based on the provided image), the stores will allow customers to "finally see, touch, feel and unlock all those great pictures stuck on your hard drive, camera and most importantly on your smartphone." Despite the "finally" in that sentence, Polaroid is far from the first to go after the brick and mortar photo printing market.

    In this realm, Polaroid is actually about 10 years behind every chain drug store, Target/Walmart, and indie one-hour joint in existence. They know this of course, and it would appear that the company is hoping it can snag the higher end of that market, photographers that might otherwise be getting prints online, or at least the "cool" market. Or the cool market that isn't interested in the Impossible Project's actually kind of for-reals cool instant printer. This bit from the Verge doesn't make it sound like Polaroid has much else up its sleeve: "physical Fotobars will also be banking on 'Phototenders' who can guide users through the process and on evoking the 'classic Polaroid experience.'" One assumes a Phototender is a lot like an Apple "Genius."

    Anyhow, the first one of nine opens next month in Delray Beach, Florida. As for what a non-stupid post-analog Polaroid evolution might look like, I have no idea. But the fact that the Polariod online store is now selling refurbished analog cameras via the Impossibe Project gives some clue as to how much the company, like Kodak, is banking on nostalgia and brand recognition rather than new ideas. 

    Reach this writer at michaelb@motherboard.tv.