Polaroid to launch photo stores…to print your Instagram photos

Polaroid Fotobar will open the first ever retail location to print digital pictures in 2013Are tangible photographs on the way back? Polaroid seems to think so. The firm was once the king of popular photography, with its instant camera achieving iconic status, and arguably helped the rise of Instagram. While the photo app has gone onto achieve great success Polaroid is a shadow of its former self. Instagram was bought for $1bn by Facebook while Polaroid has twice gone into bankruptcy and only emerging from that in 2010 as a new business.

Its latest idea is an odd one, something of an anachronism even, and seems to perfectly highlight its failure to convert its business in the digital age. It plans to open as many as ten ten Polaroid retail stores in 2013 whose sole purpose will be to print all those Polaroid looking Instagram pictures you have taken on your iPhone or Android smartphone.

Called Polaroid Fotobar stores the company says they will be “the first of their kind retail destinations designed to capitalise on the meteoric rise in people taking pictures”.

The stores will allow customers to send their favourite Facebook, Instagram or Picasa pictures wirelessly to one of the store’s workstations for quick printing.

On one level Polaroid makes a good point. While there are currently around 1.5 billion pictures taken every single day, a number that grows in tandem with the popularity and quality of camera phones, few of these pictures ever escape the camera phone with which they were taken.

That’s true, but the point is these pictures are often widely shared and widely seen. They are shared on Twitter and Facebook, passed around on camera phones, and most of them never need to be printed. Most of those Instagram photos don’t need to be turned into the modern Polaroid’s that they are ironically made to resemble.

I could well be wrong and maybe others think this is a great idea, but I do think it will struggle to gain traction. I’m just not sure how many will want to turn their pictures into “something tangible…and permanent” in a Polaroid Fotobar store.

That said they do look pretty cool in these pictures Polaroid has issued. They look like Apple stores. Another company that makes phones these pictures Polaroid is talking about are taken on.

Polaroid said it will open its first Fotobar store in Delray Beach,Florida, with future store locations to include New York,Las Vegas andBoston among others.

Polaroid Fotobar will open the first ever retail location to print digital pictures in 2013