Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Polaroid film faces the final shutter


Polaroid film faces the final shutter

By Justin Baer in New York

Published: February 8 2008 23:48 | Last updated: February 8 2008 23:48

Polaroid, the US company that introduced instant photography 60 years ago, is to stop making film.

The group, which stopped making instant cameras a year ago, will now complete its transition to digital printers, televisions and DVD players by shutting four analogue film factories.

Polaroid cameras and the white-bordered prints they produced were common at family reunions and crime scenes alike for decades, reaching peak popularity during the 1960s and 1970s. They would also become a medium of choice for artists such as Ansel Adams, David Hockney and Robert Rauschenberg.

The advent of digital technology has pushed Eastman Kodak and other veteran manufacturers to abandon film production in recent years. Soon after Polaroid was sold to private investment firm Petters Group in 2005, the management started its own gradual retreat from analogue photography.

Polaroid will close two factories in Massachusetts as well as facilities in Mexico and the Netherlands, eliminating about 450 jobs. The company plans to make enough film to last customers until next year, Thomas Beaudoin, chief operating officer, said.

He said Polaroid’s consumer-electronics business generated almost $1bn in revenue. The company had high hopes for its battery-powered digital printers, and was in talks with mobile-phone carriers and other potential business partners.

He saw this transition as the start of a third era for Polaroid, which existed for its first few decades primarily as a maker of sunglasses and protective goggles for the US military.

Polaroid sold its eyecare division last year.

The company expects its mobile printers to attract even some of the most devout fans of instant photography. But for those unmoved by the technology, there is a chance another manufacturer will produce the film elsewhere.

Mr Beaudoin said: “We’re working very hard to find some alternatives with people who might be able to take the recipe.

“We can’t promise anything.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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