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Businesses Printer

Can Fotobar Make Polaroid Relevant Again? 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the sit-and-print dept.
The years have not been kind to Polaroid. The company has gone through a couple of bankruptcies, and has tried to reinvent itself with a number of less-than-popular products including: an Android powered "smart camera," and a digital camera that incorporates instant printing. They hope to reverse their fortunes now by partnering with a startup called Fotobar and plan "to open a chain of retail stores where customers can come in and print out their favorite pictures from their mobile phones." The first is scheduled to open in February in Delray Beach, Florida, and the goal is to open 10 locations across the country before the year is out."
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Can Fotobar Make Polaroid Relevant Again?

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  • No. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    check subject.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Betterage's law is complete and utter bullshit (he broke his own law himself), but in this case it does apply -- Polaroid is history.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh yeah, Walmart...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:46PM (#42498481)
      I keep a copy of goatse on my phone, so I can reupload it and post to slashdot on the go. I went to walmart to get prints of my family reunion and the machine was down, so the kid had to start it up and insisted on helping me. As luck would have it, our friend Goatse was at the top. Long story short, he called the manager and I was asked to leave.

      Fuck walmart.
    • by cdrudge (68377)

      Not even just Walmart. Every mass merchandiser big box store has a "photolab" as well as every drug store. And since CVS, Walgreens, et al have a location on every corner in just about every city, you're never about 30 seconds away from one in any decent sized town.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        But have you ever used one? They all really sucks ass, at least the ones I've tried. Walmart are giant asses when it comes to old prints, we tried to get a copy of a third grade photo of my late sis, they refused and said we would have to "get permission from the copyright holder"...uhh dumbasses? Yeah the photographer has been dead over 20 years so how EXACTLY am I supposed to do this? Have a fricking seance? No answer. Walgreen? "There is the machine in the corner, figure it out" was basically the attitud

        • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:08PM (#42499733) Journal
          Which is why you go to the online Walgreen photo ui, upload and order your pictures then pick them up in an hour.
          • by hairyfeet (841228)
            That is fine for photos in your phone, not so much for older photographs you would like a copy of as most people don't have a good quality scanner at home.
            • That is fine for photos in your phone...

              ...which brings us back to the subject we're discussing, at least if you've read the article/summary.

        • So yeah they have a shot if it has actual customer service and decent prices, I know plenty of people that would love to have better than inkjet prints of their family photos but like me have gotten turned off by the attitude of the only 2 in town, so why not? After all its not like its gonna make the company worse off than they already are.

          I don't think prints from walgreens or walmart (both of which I have used) are any better than the inkjet prints you can do at home with any reasonable (~$200) printer and quality photo paper. The only thing that typical home printers lack are the ability to print very large poster size images. You used to be able to get stuff like that at ritz... didn't seem to keep them in business, though.

          • We've had very good results from Walgreens, but I'm sure it varies by location.

            So what if they are no better than a $200 printer, you'll spend another $200 on ink in no time printing photos.

            We only have a b/w laser printer at home and do all color photos at Walgreens. It's saving us so much money that I doubt we'll ever buy a color printer again.

            • We've had very good results from Walgreens, but I'm sure it varies by location.

              So what if they are no better than a $200 printer, you'll spend another $200 on ink in no time printing photos.

              We only have a b/w laser printer at home and do all color photos at Walgreens. It's saving us so much money that I doubt we'll ever buy a color printer again.

              It should be pretty straightforward to determine which is cheaper. I print photos rarely, and use the printer for more than just photos. For me, it makes sense to print at home on the rare occasion I actually want to print something. Usually only done if I produce something worth framing and hanging on the wall. I think I printed less than 10 photos last year. I did use the printer to send a number of faxes, scan a bunch of old photos, and print/scan various forms.

      • Staples photo service is excellent, and will make really good prints up to 20" X 24". They also make banners 24" by any length.
  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:43PM (#42498467)

    My mom occasionally prints photos. I have not printed a photo in years, since computer monitors are now more than good enough. My kids have never printed one. I don't think "printing photos" is a growth business.

    • I don't think "printing photos" is a growth business.

      My 73 year old mother prints digital photos... On her iMac. I'm sure it's easy to do on Windows too - so yeah, where's the market for this?

    • Will your digital pictures still be as accessible to your grandchildren as your grandmother's photographs are to you?

      This is one of those recurring "ask Slashdot" questions. How do I preserve the digital images or recordings so that my grandchildren can see them or hear them?

      Physical copies of pictures is still the best solution when you're talking about 50 years later.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Physical copies of pictures is still the best solution when you're talking about 50 years later.

        Nope. Despite storage under mostly controlled conditions, some of the color 35mm film my wife scanned in the '90s is visibly screwed up if rescanned in the '10s. Some kind of analysis would probably make a great kids science project.

        Yeah yeah black and white on archival acid free paper with extremely careful processing (to prevent long term fixer stains) MIGHT be OK in 50 years, plus or minus water damage, etc. But I wouldn't bet on it, and I wouldn't bet on random color prints from the instant-photo-kio

        • by dj245 (732906)

          Physical copies of pictures is still the best solution when you're talking about 50 years later.

          Nope. Despite storage under mostly controlled conditions, some of the color 35mm film my wife scanned in the '90s is visibly screwed up if rescanned in the '10s. Some kind of analysis would probably make a great kids science project.

          Yeah yeah black and white on archival acid free paper with extremely careful processing (to prevent long term fixer stains) MIGHT be OK in 50 years, plus or minus water damage, etc. But I wouldn't bet on it, and I wouldn't bet on random color prints from the instant-photo-kiosk lasting very long. I've also seen some weird fading on inkjet prints.

          The best solution is keep copying it. Keep that data live and always on the latest media.

          The problem with digital media is that it is usually an all-or-nothing affair. Physical photos degrade, but even the earliest photos can still be deciphered. Put physical photos in an box and forget about them. They might fade over 50 years, but after that you will be dead and won't care anyway.

          With digital media, you need to be vigilant, always copying the files from old media to new, periodically copying to/from the same media to make sure the data is still good, etc. It is a lot of effort. I keep

          • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:52PM (#42499281)

            It is a lot of effort.

            It should be ZERO additional effort. If you even have to think about it, then you are doing it wrong. I just copy the photos from my camera to my laptop, and then do nothing else. Within an hour they are automatically copied to a backup server in my closet. Within 24 hours, they are automatically copied to a git repository on a raid-based cloud server located a thousand miles away. None of this requires any additional effort because it is using mechanisms that are already in place to back up all my email, source code, business documents, etc. When I buy a new computer, I just copy all my data, and the photos are just copied along with everything else. No additional effort is required.

            • Someone please mod this funny.
              • by jedidiah (1196)

                The originals are what should be modded funny.

                The cult of anti-intellectualism has achieved new lows.

                Backing up your photos is not a bother. There are a legion of tools that will make it easy and automated and will even ensure that your data is offsite. Doing it manually is also pretty trivial too.

                You could simply have a directory called "Stuff I Want to Keep" and just copy that from place to place using the GUI of your choice.

                Storage is big cheap and plentiful. Interfaces are shiny and happy. Most people c

          • What if the originals become corrupted and I back up files which are useless because I didn't notice?

            This is a solid question.

            I have been burned by a crappy controller subtly corrupting many of my photos to the extent that I wanted to implement a version control system in my offsite backup uploading scheme. If no corruption occurs, version control does nothing. If it does occur, very little extra data is stored.

            I ran into problems with larger (binary) files (the target offsite system is just a NAS) using SVN and switched back to a basic rsync setup. Perhaps it is time to check again for a version control s

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Odd, I've been doing the opposite, digitizing a century's worth of family stuff (photos, LPs, VHS tapes, cassettes).

        • by Genda (560240)

          I'm calling BS. I have black and white family pictures over a hundred years old and they're just fine. I'm seeing color shifting on prints from the 60s (color before that was relatively rare.) Nothing that can't be rescanned and color corrected. Figure digital photography that seriously competes with 35mm film has only been around for what, 10 years and competes with 110 for 15 years, the chances of seeing any real problem with media bit rot is limited. There are now good archival digital media options M-Di

      • Will your digital pictures still be as accessible to your grandchildren as your grandmother's photographs are to you?

        My grandmother's photos are NOT available to me. She had a camera and loved to take pictures. But I have no idea where they are today. Maybe in a box in an attic or drawer somewhere. Maybe in a landfill. I have no idea.

        This is one of those recurring "ask Slashdot" questions.

        Yes it is recurring question, but a very annoying one, since the answer is always the same: put the images on at least two different types of media, and store them in at least two geographical locations. Then move to new media as the old becomes outdated.

        My photo archive is about 100GB.

      • by Nemyst (1383049)

        No, the questions asked in most "ask Slashdot" questions related to this are about a means of preserving them for a long period of time. The problem's that this is not the good way around it.

        Instead of attempting to find a CD that'll last 100 years or tapes that last 200 or engraved sapphires that last 1000, make your photo albums part of your living data. Keep them on your hard drive, properly backed up (preferably one on-site and one off-site) and just transfer them around as necessary. If one backup or t

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          I do the same, but without the cloud backup. I was burned long ago by cloud email shutting down. I had most backed up locally, but it still was an inconvenience. Moving drives around and keeping extra copies has worked well enough since then.
      • by dissy (172727)

        I have plenty of photographs that have faded or been damaged, and only at roughly 20 years old. The scans made of those pictures when they were first made however still live on as pixel perfect as day one.

        Ironically, my current primary computers (a core i7 desktop, and a quad xeon server in the basement for VMs, including my storage server) have between them a full copy of every other computer I've ever owned in the past. All the way back to my very first Apple//, with a collection of disk image files and

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The only trick to keeping digital data alive, is to migrate it to technology considered currently stable BEFORE the current storage tech it's using becomes old.

          Well no. There's another trick, an adequate backup. It's an old trick, but people still seem to forget it. I don't back up my PC because I can reinstall it, but I store data I actually care about on external disks and I buy them in twos, so that I can make backups with UUID and a tune2fs command (to generate a new UUID and change the volume label so I can mount both at once if I choose.) I haven't lost any data in a very long while. The backup disk currently goes into a fire safe, since I have nowhere bette

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Most of my grandmother's photos probably didn't make it to me.

        On the other hand, digital photos are trivial to copy. If you scale them down, they are even trivial to scale and can fit on just about any consumer device with storage capacity.

        Physical media only seems better because it was lucky enough to survive. Much like cultural artitfacts of an older age, it's simply what managed to stay around and not be forgotten. So it ends up making all old stuff seem better than it really is.

        Physical media requires a

      • My wife's grandmother died today. A few years back, when she was still somewhat coherent and could still see a little, we treated her to a Christmas party where we showed her her own old slides, which she hadn't seen in decades.

        We had to find and rent a slide projector, which wasn't cheap. Then, many of the slides from the 60s had horrible color damage - only red was left.

        We have them all in climate-controlled storage now. At some point, I'll buy a decent slide scanner and scan them all in. Slides are a

      • I'm not sure about my grand father's photos (he didn't leave many...), but one thing I know: many of my father's photos changed color, faded, or otherwise degraded in interesting ways. So, "preserving" images, not so much.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Will your digital pictures still be as accessible to your grandchildren as your grandmother's photographs are to you?

        Probably more accessible. All the old photos I have are badly degraded, that doesn't happen with a digital file.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I can still see the business in large scale printing, like for hanging it up on a wall... but the 10x15 or 13x18 paper copies? Nah.... And for the photos on the wall, it's not exactly an impulse buy. I can just do this at a bunch of services online that work really well. I just don't see the market either.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      I don't think this a good business idea either, but nor do I agree that computer monitors are good enough. They're a lot more convenient, yes, and they're a lot brighter, which can often be very useful. However, the resolution of most computer monitors is less than the resolution of even an 8x10, you can only view the picture wherever your monitor is, and you can only see them when the monitor isn't being used for something else. There's a lot of value in prints suitable for putting up on a wall or even jus

    • Not every one lets computers control their lives and every time I'm at Walmart or London Drugs the print stations are full of people printing photos.

    • by hawk (1151)

      At the moment, I can go to the CVS about 100 yards from my house, or the wallie-world half a mile away, and get prints from something like 12c/each.

      Separate stores for this purpose? And somehow these stores will be more common and closer than the drugstores that pop up like mushrooms on street corners?

    • Disclaimer: Not a photo professional by any means, but I do pay attention to industry trends.

      My mom occasionally prints photos. I have not printed a photo in years, since computer monitors are now more than good enough. My kids have never printed one. I don't think "printing photos" is a growth business.

      Once again, proving the danger of extrapolating from your personal experience to the population-at-large - combined with knowing pretty much nothing about the topic.

      Contrary to popul

  • But why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:50PM (#42498511)

    I don't see the point of printing photos these days. All our old prints sit gathering dust in boxes in a closet. The only time anyone uses them is when I get them out as I gradually scan them all into a computer, hopefully before they all fade.

    Now we look at our old photos more than we ever used to, blown up to a nice size on our TV in the living room. Added bonus: offsite backup copies in case of fire/tornado/whatever.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Exactly. Most of the posts have been talking about printing labs in stores and home and the fact that we don't need to print. And this is why Kodak and Polaroid are essentially gone. Both depended on selling paper, and no one buys paper.There is no need to have a print that last 40 years because more photos are viewable on demand and transfered without fess. Look at it this way. In the past the cost of printing was essentially a way for the companies to minimize how you used the picture.

      And this is w

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:54PM (#42498531) Journal

    I'm honestly surprised that an idea this stupid managed to get enough funding for a startup, let alone enough to drape Polaroid's necrotic brand across the venture...

    There are, already, about a zillion retail photo-printing options available, if you actually need such a thing. Most of the chain pharmacies that used to(possibly still do) offer cheap 35mm processing have a kiosk or two for printing from digital media. They always look a trifle shabby; but the infrastructure is there already, and should retail printing take off in a given market, it'd be cheap and quick for any such location to swap in a slightly nicer kiosk. Office supply places, Fedex/Kinkos, and various other outfits also offer retail printing services(again, while currently rather business-drab, it'd be little more than a firmware update and some new posters if they want to make the process more 'hip'.)

    And, for those who don't need instant gratification, pictures on mobile phones are, what, 1-3 seconds away from the internet and its cut-price photo printing services? I'd assume that at least some of them have already released 'apps' to make it easier to order directly from your phone's internal photo storage. If not, they certainly could, and fairly quickly. The various online services onto which photos are commonly uploaded are similarly well placed.

    I'm just not seeing where these guys are supposed to fit in a market whose saturation is masked only by customer disinterest...

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      You would have spent less time reading the article, and thereby obviating the need to type what you did, than you did typing out your moronicity.
      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:04PM (#42498599) Journal

        "The basic Polaroid-style printouts will start at about $15 and be ready at the store within five to 10 minutes, Fotobar founder and CEO Warren Struhl told me. Prints on more exotic materials, or with framing and matting, will ship from a manufacturing facility within three days."

        As I noticed by reading the article, these guys are offering the same damn thing as their existing competitors. The only onsite capabilities are your basic CVS mini-lab level quick print stuff, albeit with a markup for that iconic polaroid border, and any of the oddities are processed offsite, just like all the online photo finishers who offer all kinds of weird printing options without the trouble of going to a store.

    • by vlm (69642)

      necrotic brand

      That's a nice phrase. Your invention? I sat here for a couple minutes trying to think of other necrotic brands. Dead and rotting but haven't been entirely excised from culture yet... "SCO"? "Atari"? "CompUSA?"

    • Most drug store printing include online printing. Just look for it. Using Wallgreens for an example because it was mentioned as a typical drugstore offering photo printing. See the upload tab?

      http://photo.walgreens.com/walgreens/welcome [walgreens.com]

    • Dude.

      They're opening these shops in Florida. They're not targeting us. They're targetting our parents.

      • by russotto (537200)

        They're opening these shops in Florida. They're not targeting us. They're targetting our parents.

        My Mom has her own photo printer. My grandma would never have gotten a camera phone, and in any case she's a lousy market as she passed away some time ago.

      • by blang (450736)

        What a great choice of market niche. Pick a market that is scheduled to die in the next few years. Even my parents gave up on photo prints a long time ago, and I'm almost 50. They're targeting my grandparents but they're all dead , I'm sad to say.

    • My mum has a fairly old printer, which has:
      a) several card slots for various memory cards (ie. built in card reader)
      b) the driver lets you use the card reader in Windows, so you can look at the pics on the screen as well
      c) a small, built-in colour screen on the printer
      d) buttons to select which photo you want to print
      e) a "print photo" button.

      So all you do is, insert card straight from you camera, select the pic on the printer's screen and print it. You don't even need to turn on the PC, the printer does it

  • by guttentag (313541) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:55PM (#42498543) Journal
    So people have a convenient, in-store way to share these new-fangled "physical" photos with others. And by share, I mean you go down to the store with your phone, they print the photo and hang it on the wall, and give the customer a stack of cards they can FedEx to their friends. The cards will contain the address of the store, so the friends can come visit and see their photo on the wall.
    • by hawk (1151)

      naah . . . I'll take a picture of that physical thingie with my phone, and send it to my friends . . .

      hawk

  • The company has gone through a couple of bankruptcies, and has tried to reinvent itself with a number of less-than-popular products including: an Android powered "smart camera"

    Was this referring to the Polaroid sc1630 that was a rebranded Altek Leo / Aigo A8 [engadget.com]device, or the upcoming IM1836 camera?

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:19PM (#42498673)

    My Mum's photo-mad. She (and my Father and brother) collectively have about $25,000 worth of high-end amateur gear, regularly take classes, and go on photo safaris. Prior to the digital revolution, she had albums upon albums of print photos.

    She hasn't printed one now for over 10 years. None of us in my family have. We still get physical photos, but nowadays they're always either large canvas prints for hanging on a wall, or photobooks (like those produced by albumworks and others). The traditional single print? Haven't seen one for a decade. I don't think this is a winning proposition.

  • This thinkng is what doomed them in the first place.

  • If my experience with my 19-year-old granddaughter is any indication, nobody prints photos from cell phones. They get sent to friends or posted to Facebook and that's the end of the line.
    • It's a neat point.

      One interesting thing about photos nowadays is that they're pretty much disposable. Much like spam, you take pictures of everything because it don't cost nothin' and, what the hell, if you take 1000 pictures and one of them is awesome, you're ahead of the game. But the vast majority of them are garbage which, if they disappeared in a sudden hard-drive failure, nothing of value would be lost.

      So we share more photos of lesser value.

      • That's the blessing and curse of digital photography. Back in the film era, you had a certain number of shots to take. If you have a roll of film with 5 good photos, 1 exceptional one, and the rest all messed up a photo, you needed to pay to get them all developed. So the cost-per-printed-photo was high. Plus, if you snapped away at everything, you would run out of film quickly and would need to buy more. Extra expense.

        Nowadays, you can get cards to hold more photos that you need. (I use a 16GB card t

  • Sorry but Walmart and a few stationary stores already do that.

  • Leave it to the current zombified incarnation of Polaroid to simultaneously misspell FUBAR and fail at copying Apple's Genius Bar concept.
  • wait... they're serious?

  • It's dead, that's what's wrong with it. Polaroid's passed on! This manufacturer is no more! It has ceased to be! 'Polaroid's expired and gone to meet it's maker! It''s a stiff! Bereft of life, Polaroid rests in peace! Michael Land's Polaroid company was auctioned off, and the tradename was purchased by someone in Taipei, I think, or licensed to them. And RCA Victrola too. I don't mind an article about what the Taiwanese tradename owners or licensees are up to, but really it's no more interesting t
  • It's called almost every Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and CVS in the United States. They have little kiosks where you can print from your phone or Facebook or Flickr or SD card or whatever.

    And they don't have to support the infrastructure of a whole store by themselves. In fact they don't even have to be particularly profitable since part of the deal is you'll wander the rest of the store and buy stuff while waiting for your prints.

    • by blang (450736)

      Exactly. The high end market already owns their own printers. The low end market is already served. And if they take this idea to the developing world instead of USA, they will find that there is already a cottage industry of small graphical shops that get the job done with staff that gets paid $5 a day, and where the capital consist of a beat up old pc, and an old photo printer retrofitted to support continuous ink fed instead of the expensive brand name cartridges. You see them in shacks and mall kiosks a

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