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back to article Polaroid plans retail Fotobars to print out your pics

In a bizarre business plan that had El Reg checking if it weren't April already, Polaroid has announced a plan to open 10 shops in the US this year offering photo printing from customer's smartphones. Visitors to the retail units, dubbed Fotobars, will be able to upload their photos from cameras and smartphones wirelessly to in- …

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Anonymous Coward

WTF?

Can you imagine that business plan on Dragons' Den?

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Could work depending on the cost, but that's why many people don't bother with printing out photos and just watch them on the TV or in a photo frame.

Still photo albums can be handed down and are nicely tactile and I have a wife who insists on the prints.

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Anonymous Coward

Prints are good...

I may be in the minority but I like prints, we do photo books of each holiday to show friends and take to relatives and I have a set of favourite A4 prints of where we have been on the staircase. Far better than a screen for casual viewing.

However, like many high street (or main street as we are talking USA) operations they need to be cheaper or better or offer something else to get me to use them over internet operations. Sure my photobooks take a week to arrive, but they usually take months to get done as I put it off, so the extra delivery time is not an issue.

As others have said every chemist and supermarket does prints now, why would I use this service over anyone else. I can upload my images to Asda and walk in and collect them with my shopping, it's cheap, convenient and easy to do, going out of my way won't happen unless they offer something extra or are a lot cheaper.

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jai
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Re: Prints are good...

I may be in the minority

I think you probably are. Otherwise, the likes of Polaroid and Kodak wouldn't be in such trouble these days if everyone was still so keen on getting properly printed photos.

A lot of these comments say about how great photo albums are... but there's nothing stopping you from printing out your snaps on your home printer, most of them these days will even print photo paper.

This is Polaroid solving a problem that no longer exists in this day and age. It'd be like Ford setting up highstreet stalls for re-shoeing horses...

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FAIL

Re: Prints are good...

There is lots to stopping me from printing out photos myself a) the faff of making sure the paper is the right type/side up/aligned perfectly to avoid jams b) the annoyance when the ink runs out or turns blobby and smeary c) the cost of replacing ridiculously expensive print cartridges d) the annoyance of paper jams e) the bloody mess when the knife slips while trimming the photos to size!

This is why NORMAL people can't be arsed to print out photos - its way too complicated and in the log run as expensive as getting them printed, since most high quality print cartridges (for photo printing) are a total rip-off and cost almost as much as the damn printer itself!!

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Re: WTF?

They'd have stiff competition here, most of the photography shops and electrical retailers here already offer such services.

I got a bunch of canvas prints of photos for my fiance for Christmas, as well as some poster prints of our last holiday. Walked into the shop, gave them my USB stick and selected the sizes I wanted. They also do it with 'phones, but only per cable.

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jai
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Re: Prints are good...

yes, but printers are so cheap that it's almost cheaper to just buy a new printer every time you go on holiday than it is to take a SD card to your local Boots or PontaPrint or whatever

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Anonymous Coward

Photo Kiosks

They already have something similar in Boots ..

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kodak print center?

Didn't Kodak have n thousand franchisees doing exactly this? I know they started out with Ian and chips. But the last one I used offered wireless and web upload as options.

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FAIL

And if this fails...

Will Polaroid try opening a livery stable in downtown Detroit?

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Mushroom

Fotobar or fubar? Just saying.

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Anonymous Coward

@rcorrect

Well, Foobar, innit?

That t was merely a typo.

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WTF?

Anything

That stops people using insta-sodding-wotsit is good. Now if it makes them pause for a instant (sic) before posting their rubbish on facewotsit then it might stop humanity drowning in its own stupidity.

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Don't think it will work

but they have the right idea.

My parents have physical folders upon folders of pictures of me from my childhood. I believe they are called photo albums. These albums are around 40 years old. They have other photo albums that are closer to 60 years old.

Contrast that with the calls I get all the time, because I'm the techy guy that can usually help, from a family member whose SD card or flash disk has just died, with the last several years worth of digital photos he hasn't duplicated elsewhere, who is horrified to find out he either has to accept they are gone, or try something like an Ontrack recovery that can cost up to £5K.

A service like this is needed, simply because people can't be bothered turning their digital pics into something more tangible either by printing them out themselves, or backing them up. I just can't really see how it can be made profitable tho.

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Re: Don't think it will work

Anyone too lazy to backup their photos is going to be equally lazy when it comes to getting off their butts and going to a shop.

As much as the cloud is often just the same old rehashed, I suspect the days of manually copying jpegs off phones and cameras are limited. ( yes the Jesus phone amongst others already does this, I am referring to data charges on mobile networks as the current limiting factor.

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WTF?

classic Polaroid experiences

So can you chop off half of this guy's head, and make it all blue and fuzzy?

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FAIL

And next to Polaroid

I'll set up a kiosk where you can drop in a Polaroid and get a digital image, converting those misguided gifts back into something useful. For a few more pennies I'll send it to Shutterfly where they'll have backups of backups of backups keeping the bits safe and ready to convert into a new retro gift.

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Happy

Re: And next to Polaroid

Heh. It is not so often in these forums that the cloud is touted as the safest alternative.

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Headmaster

Re: And next to Polaroid@ratfox

"Heh. It is not so often in these forums that the cloud is touted as the safest alternative."

You are Yoda's more loquacious brother, and I claim my five pounds.

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Joke

Classic Polaroid technique

Shaking it up, and waiting to see what develops.

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Old hat - unfortunately

Can't see this working. Folk are too lazy to sort out their best pics and delete the rubbish, let alone having to deliberately make the effort to go to a store and have them printed - especially as most home printers can make a passable stab at photo printing on the right paper. Nope - fail, I reckon.

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Re: Old hat - unfortunately

Agree. Even if all the planet suddenly realises they must have hard copies as this is more secure, this Polaroid plot will fail miserably. Hard copy services are all over the Net now, with high quality prints, just upload your selection of pics, wait 3 days et voila.

No need really to lose time in a whopping 2000 sqf place !

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Meh

Re: Old hat - unfortunately

I can see this might work in a very few tourist hotspots - tourist takes snap of self or family outside (shameless plug) Caerphilly castle, pops into the local Polaroid store, has snap slightly tarted up and printed into a format suitable for use as a postcard. Writes message and pops it into the postbox on the corner. We do something similar on a regular basis, except that we take one of those dye-sublimation(*) 6x4 photo printers on holiday with us - could run from a battery pack but we actually use an inverter in the car.

Fly in the ointment is that there's usually a Boots or something already nearby that can do very nearly the same job. In Caerphilly there is a Boots, and Morrisons also have instant printing facilities though sadly the local independent camera shop closed to make way for a Greg's last year (right next to an independent baker's too. How did *that* get past planning?)

The key would be the marketing as neither Boots nor Morrisons make a big fuss about their printing facilities, and certainly not in relation to tourists. I think there *might* be a market for Polaroid-branded self-service booths actually *in* the tourist hotspots, but these would have to work unattended.

M.

(*)Dye-sub, for the bloke worried about longevity, is said by the manufacturers to be good for 100 years or so. Take that with a large pinch of salt, but in our limited experience so far the prints are vastly better quality and last longer than other home printing technologies.

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Anonymous Coward

WTF?

Polaroid? Do they still exist? Am I having a weird flashback?

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Anonymous Coward

Oh yes...

...Polaroid still exists, all right - assuming you're in the UK, just visit the home entertainment section at your nearest ASDA. For some inexplicable reason, "Polaroid" now appears to be ASDA's brandname for their home entertainment electronics products (tellies, iPod-dock alarm clocks and such) - wonder how THAT came about?

(I also own a Polaroid PoGo - that pocket-sized photo printer that chugs out tiny sticky-backed photo prints. It's mildly fun, and works happily with my Nokia N8, though not with the iPhone... so if my next mobile turns out to be a "fruity" one, the PoGo might become a PaperWeight :-( Wonder if I can Bluetooth pics to it from our Mac?)

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Re: Oh yes...

Noy only that, but from what I know the police like to use Polaroid-brand cameras. The quad-lensed sort that print out four copies of what you take. There's just not many other solutions for having hardcopy of what you're pointing the camera at right now (or at least, in 70-90 seconds).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh yes...

"For some inexplicable reason, "Polaroid" now appears to be ASDA's brandname for their home entertainment electronics products - wonder how THAT came about?"

Simple; the original "true" Polaroid Corporation (i.e. the one that invented and popularised the instant camera) went bankrupt over a decade ago and its assets- including the name and IP- were sold off.

Since then- as with many brands bought from well-known companies that went bankrupt- the brand's new owners have licensed the name to any distributor that wants to give a spurious sense of familiarity and quality to otherwise generic consumer electronics.

The ASDA deal in the UK is just another example of this- in this case, the "Polaroid" name means no more than Tesco's "Technika" own-brand.

To be fair, the present holders of the name do seem to be making a greater attempt than their predecessors to trade on its heritage and association with instant photography (e.g. the Zink-based PoGo printers and cameras, with Lady GaGa marketing). But outside of that, it still appears to be just another example of a "zombie brand" for random tat.

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Lost the plot

I cannot see this working. People these days don't want hard copies. Phone and small sized camera photos are generally emailed, not printed. Emailing something take a few seconds. Printing on paper, then hand delivering can take days and costs (relative to emailing) a lot.

More and more i thing the only people who want hard copies are those who want high quality canvases to put on walls or for other purposes such as posters. The images for these are not likely to be coming out out phones, no matter how good the cameras in them are.

I think Polaroid is really just a company with products which are no longer relevant and no ability to innovate.

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FAIL

Orange already do this in France...

Through a hook-up with Photo Service, which was originally a chain of classic photo print shops.

The shops never look very busy....

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LDS
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Thumb Down

That's the plan that sunk Kodak...

Kodak too believed they could happily kill chemical films and switch to sell printouts from digital images. They went bankrupt ASAP. There could be a niche market for people wanting high quality large prints from some of their digital images (but usually these people don't use a smartphone, but some kind of high quality DSLR and lenses..), those kind of prints you can't do easily at home (how many own a photo printer capable of prints larger than A4/letter?), but today most people will show most of their pictures on mobile devices.

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Re: That's the plan that sunk Kodak...

I am that niche market, but I got a Canon IP8500 to do the printing. That particular model is long since discontinued, but still working just fine for me. When it comes to replace it, I will get another Canon or maybe an Epson printer.

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Anonymous Coward

Am I missing something?

How is this different than popping to Boots, Tesco's or a million and one other shops and using one of the self service machines, or if less of a rush, using the like of Boots photo services?

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Coat

Er...

People are already offering this as a sideline. Kodak and other machines instore as well as counter based services. They are going to compete in a low margin saturated market with mature outlets.

How is Polariod still alive?

Mine's the one with a usb stick on the keyring.

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Anonymous Coward

Polaroid is dead, but its corpse has been resurrected twice...

@Mage; "How is Polaroid still alive?"

Simple answer- they're not, in fact, they're long gone.

The original Polaroid Corporation went bankrupt over a decade back, and the brand and IP were sold off to a company whose primary interest was whoring out the name to distributors of otherwise generic electronics.

Since then, that company has in turn gone bankrupt (*) and the brand has changed hands again.

(*) Though that was more likely due to the fact that it was turned into a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scam(!) See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petters_Group_Worldwide

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In 2010 the company appointed Lady Gaga as its creative director

Where can I see some examples of her design work or read about her policy decisions?

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Re: In 2010 the company appointed Lady Gaga as its creative director

You've never heard of printing photos on bacon and other meat products?

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Facepalm

Re: In 2010 the company appointed Lady Gaga as its creative director

Well that's a stupid thing to do. You're supposed to *eat* bacon, not shove it through your printer.

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FAIL

Been done already surely?

Has anyone been in the Photo department in Boots or any supermarket recently as people stand trying to make shitty Smartphone pics into shitty paper photos? There were queues and queues of people over Christmas shoving their iPhones in and waiting (possibly for weeks) as the photo kiosk tried to work its way through thousands of terrible camera phone images that have never been backed up or downloaded?

These self-service kiosks are pretty much ubiquitous and instant to use. Between Kodak and Fuji I can't see anyone else getting much of a market hold. It's an area where brand name doesn't really count but convenience and cost do.

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FAIL

Printed copies of photos are pointless...

Printed copies of photos are pointless unless they are chemically produced prints rather that printer prints.

Only chemically produced prints will last / not fade.

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Stop

Re: Printed copies of photos are pointless...

That might be true of prints knocked out on a colour laser or cheap inkjet, but if you use one of the high end printers from Epson or Canon that use pigment inks, and then look after the prints properly (as you need to do with chemical prints), their lifespan will be comparable to chemical prints.

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Re: Printed copies of photos are pointless...

Indeed. We *know* from experience that decent silver prints, properly made on archival papers, will last in excess of 160 years. We also know that many printing inks are to say the least, fugitive when exposed to light.

The snag is, we're not all that well-served with non-fugitive photographic dyes; many fade with light and/or time... and not being able to look at the prints is generally considered something of a disadvantage. Which rather suggests, three-colour silver separations not being a common form of producing images, that well-defined open digital standards may well be the best option available.

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Re: Printed copies of photos are pointless...

"decent silver prints, properly made on archival papers, will last in excess of 160 years"

Well, that's 0.01% of all photo prints safe then. The other 99.99% were printed on commodity grade commercial paper by low cost processors, and are busy going dark and developing strange colour casts even in unopened albums.

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WTF?

Management speak

"the opportunities they will create for millions of consumers to have classic Polaroid experiences."

Is he trying to impress other management types with this gobbledygook? Nobody else is going to have any interest in whatever a "classic Polaroid experience" is supposed to be.

The classic use for those instant photos was for pictures of an 'intimate' nature that you do NOT want to be seen by the local print shop

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Maybe, just maybe ...

ISTM peeps here have missed the bit that polaroid are adding to the mix ... "phototenders" (which is too clunky to work) which you DON'T get at your local Boots/ASDA (also bear in mind this is a US story, and they have a completely different retail ethos).

Also remember that not everyone who owns a smartphone/digital camera is a tech whizz. If these "fotenders" (see, didn't take long !) can genuinely improve the pictures (and presumably subtly suggest the customer buys an extra copy, or has a mouse mat made from one) then it could be an interesting - if niche - service.

I think - irritatingly enough - that sociologists will become increasingly important in business ventures. The more we isolate ourselves with online services reducing our points of contact with our fellow man, the more chances there are that services that can engineer human contact will flourish. I already know a couple of people who despite online shopping for most things, still go to shopping centres just to have a coffee, meal, and "interact".

Maybe Polaroid could team up with Starbucks, and have in store coffee ?

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Paris Hilton

Classic Polaroid Experience?

Those phototenders are going to see a lot of flesh tones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Classic Polaroid Experience?

That could be the genius stroke in the Fotobar business plan. Download all the phone's content, and sell any acceptable grumble to the dark side of the web That would have a far higher margin than printing a few photos. Until the authorities shut them down, of course.

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Anonymous Coward

Not viable

The one-to-one time spent by staff and customer won't produce enough profit.

In a bar, the interaction is fairly short, and not the sole reason to be there. This is more like a visit to a travel agent, with the customer spending a long time with one member of staff. How on earth is that supposed to pay, for a few photos which have to be fairly low margin to compete with alternatives?

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