Polaroid is announcing plans to expand its online Fotobar service with the opening of at least 10 brick-and-mortar locations.
Polaroid is the iconic brand of instant photography and polarized eyewear dating back to the mid-20th century. The Polaroid Corporation itself did not successfully navigate changes in technology and consumer preferences and has gone through two bankruptcies since 2001. But the brand name lives on and is used to sell a variety of products such as digital still cameras, digital video cameras, digital photo frames and mobile products.
Polaroid’s Fotobar service allows photographers to upload their favorite pictures from cameras, mobile devices or social media platforms; edit and or enhance them; and then have them printed and framed choosing from a wide variety of options. Photos can be printed on metal, acrylic, bamboo, canvas and other materials.
Polaroid Fotobar touts the ability to create museum quality pieces of art, which might be true for some. But for most, simply the ability to take their favorite photos out of electronic storage and create tangible pictures printed on something other than standard photo paper, and suitable for home or office display, will probably suffice.
The planned retail locations will hopefully make the service more visible, offer the services of “Phototenders” to assist customers, and allow customers to see and touch surface and framing options before ordering. The flagship store planned for Delray Beach, Florida has rather grand ambitions featuring a “multi-purpose room that will host photo classes, private parties and include a studio location for portrait photos. Polaroid Fotobar store creators envision the stores becoming a recreational and entertainment destination in addition to a place to shop.”
There are definitely a lot of photos being taken the days that never make it to a wall or photo album. Warren Struhl, founder and CEO of Fotobar, LLC claims in the announcement “There are currently around 1.5 billion pictures taken every single day, and that number continues to grow in tandem with the popularity and quality of camera phones.”
But the photo printing market already has a variety of players, so Polaroid Fotobar faces a lot of competition. Maybe the Polaroid name will help Fotobar stand out and lead to great success.