Gone are the days when photographers had to wait hours or days to view their creations as their film was developed. In those days, Polaroid was the answer to instant photography. But once digital photography came into play, the once-famous form faded into history. Polaroid isn’t ready to call it quits just yet, however. It plans to bring its classic instant gratification to mobile photographers by opening a series of retail shops called Fotobars where people can print digital photos directly from their mobile devices, including those stored on apps such as Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Instagram and Picasa by Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).
“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” founder and CEO of Fotobar Warren Struhl said in a statement. “Unfortunately, even the very best of those pictures rarely ever escape the camera phone with which they were taken to be put on display around our homes and offices.”
Polaroid announced the new venture at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show and plans to open its first Fotobar in next month in Delray Beach, Fla. The company has planned 10 stores for 2013 in cities such as New York, Boston and Las Vegas.
Each Fotobar will offer patent-pending technology that allows customers to select photos from their camera phones and transmit them wirelessly to one of the store’s bar-top workstations, providing hassle-free ordering within seconds. From there, the customers can enhance and edit their photos at the workstations using effects such as red-eye corrections, contrast and brightness adjustments; and the filters will show the users the outcome as they work.
“Polaroid has always been about much more than just taking pictures,” said Polaroid President and CEO Scott W. Hardy. “Polaroid is about sharing life’s most precious and memorable moments. We have been, and continue to be, about self-expression, creativity and fun. Polaroid Fotobar retail stores represent a perfect modern expression of the values for which we have stood for 75 years. We are very excited about the opening of these stores, and the opportunities they will create for millions of consumers to have classic Polaroid experiences.”
By no means is Polaroid the first to offer such a service. Costco (NASDAQ: COST) prints photos directly from iPhones and Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) prints Instagram photos for its customers. Polaroid plans, however, to stand apart from its competitors by designing its Fotobars “around the customer experience with the goal of helping people release their ‘trapped’ photos and display their cherished memories in the form of premium quality art.”
One way the company plans to offer premium customer service is through its experienced “Phototenders,” personnel who are not only photo enthusiasts, but are trained to guide customers through the process from start to finish. In addition to prints, customers can also choose to purchase matted copies of their photos and frames in a variety of designs and materials. All ordered prints are promised to be handcrafted and shipped from their manufacturing facility to the consumer within 72 hours.