Polaroid Corporation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Polaroid Corporation
Type Private
Industry Optics
Founded 1937
Founder(s) Edwin H. Land
Headquarters Minnetonka, Minnesota, U.S.
Area served Worldwide
Key people Scott W. Hardy (CEO)
Products Digital cameras, Polaroid Eyewear
Parent PLR IP Holdings, LLC
Website www.polaroid.com

Polaroid Corporation is an American-based international consumer electronics and eyewear company, founded in 1937 by Edwin H. Land. It is most famous for its instant film cameras, which reached the market in 1948, and continued to be the company's flagship product line until the February 2008 decision to cease all production in favor of digital photography products.[1] The company's original dominant market was in polarized sunglasses, an outgrowth of Land's self-guided research in polarization after leaving Harvard University after his freshman year—he later returned to Harvard to continue his research.

After Polaroid defeated Kodak in a patent battle, Kodak left the instant camera business on January 9, 1986.

Polaroid developed an instant movie system, Polavision, based on the Dufaycolor process. The product arrived on the market when videotape-based systems were rapidly gaining popularity. As a result, Polavision was unsuccessful and most of the manufactured product was sold off as a job lot at immense cost to the company. Its underlying technology was later improved for use in the Polachrome instant slide film system.

The company also was one of the early manufacturers of digital cameras, with the PDC-2000 in 1996;[2] however, they failed to capture a large market share in that segment.

They also made 35 mm and multi format scanners, such as Polaroid SpiritScan 4000 35 mm scanner (the first scanner with a 4000 DPI CCD) in 1999, and the Polaroid PrintScan 120 in 2000, the scanners had mixed reception and had heavy competition with Nikon and Minolta. All the line was discontinued after the firm went bankrupt.

On October 11, 2001, Polaroid Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Almost all the company's assets (including the "Polaroid" name itself, which had become almost synonymous with instant photographs) were sold to a subsidiary of Bank One. They went on to form a new company, which also operates under the name "Polaroid Corporation".[3] It stopped making Polaroid cameras in 2007 and stopped selling Polaroid film after 2009, to the consternation of many users.[4][5]

The renamed "old" Polaroid now exists solely as an administrative shell.[6] Its bankruptcy was widely believed to be the result of the failure of its senior management to anticipate the effect of digital cameras on its film business.

On December 18, 2008, the post-reorganization Polaroid Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota. The bankruptcy filing came shortly after the criminal investigation of its parent company, Petters Group Worldwide, and the parent company founder, Tom Petters.[7]

On January 5, 2010, Polaroid partnered with Lady Gaga, appointing her as Creative Director for the company.[8] A press release stated that she would be the "new face" of Polaroid.[9]

Since March 2010, instant film materials for vintage Polaroid cameras have again become available on the market, developed and manufactured by a group called The Impossible Project, at the former Polaroid production plant in Enschede, The Netherlands.

Polaroid's growth under its founder[edit]

The original Polaroid Corporation was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Edwin Land in 1937. Described by the Boston Globe as a "juggernaut of innovation", in many respects Polaroid was the Apple of its time with "a Steve Jobsian leader in Edwin Land, a scientist who guided the company as the CEO for several decades".[10] Polaroid, owning patents to its polarizer technology, got its start by employing polarization in products that included 3-D movies and glare-reducing goggles for dogs. During World War II, Polaroid designed and manufactured numerous products for the armed services including an infrared night viewing device. Land’s name appears on 533 US patents, second only to Thomas Edison’s 1,093. He led the company as CEO For 43 years, he headed the Polaroid Corporation, developing it from a small research and marketing firm into one of the best-known high-tech companies ever. Kodak was a customer for some of Land's polarizing products. Recognized by most as the father of instant photography, he included all the operations of a darkroom inside the film itself. When Kodak announced instant film cameras in 1976, Polaroid announced they were suing them, accusing Kodak of having stolen its patented instant photography process.[10]

Land was pictured on the cover of Life magazine in 1972 with the inscription, "A Genius and His Magic Camera". In the two years that followed the lawsuit, total sales of instant cameras climbed from 7.4 million cameras in 1976 to 10.3 million in 1977 and 14.3 million in 1978. The suit in federal court lasted 10 years. Polaroid asked for $12 billion for infringements of its patents by Kodak. The court ruled in favor of Polaroid, and ordered Kodak to cease instant picture production, plus pay Polaroid $909.5 million of the $2 billion it had asked for.[10]

In 1977, Land introduced the Polaroid Instant Home Movie camera named Polavision. However, it failed to sell well in retail stores, and has been described as the swan song for Polaroid. After four decades as chairman, Edwin Land was coerced to resign and leave the corporation he had founded. He died in 1991. The Polavision debacle eventually caused the company to write off $89 million.[10]

In the 1980s, Polaroid tried to reinvent itself without Land at its helm by shifting away from a dependence on consumer photography, a market which was in steady decline. Polaroid was forced to make wholesale changes that included having to fire thousands of workers and close many factories. The 1990s saw the advent of new technologies that profoundly changed the world of photography — one-hour color film processing, single-use cameras from competitors, videotape camcorders, and digital cameras.[10]

Bankruptcy and the "new" Polaroid Corporation[edit]

"Chapter 11" controversy[edit]

The original Polaroid Corporation filed for federal bankruptcy protection on October 11, 2001. The outcome was that within ten months, most of the business (including the "Polaroid" name itself[11] and non-bankrupt foreign subsidiaries) had been sold to Bank One's One Equity Partners (OEP). OEP Imaging Corporation then changed its name to Polaroid Holding Company (PHC).[12][13] However, this new company operates using the name of its bankrupt predecessor, Polaroid Corporation.[3] Significant criticism surrounded this "takeover" because the process left executives of the company with large bonuses, while stockholders, as well as current and retired employees, were left with nothing. The company announced a plan that gave the top 45 executives bonuses just for staying at their jobs. Meanwhile, other employees were restricted from selling their stock before leaving their jobs.[10]

As part of the settlement, the original Polaroid Corporation changed its name to Primary PDC, Inc.[6][12] Having sold its assets, it was now effectively nothing more than an administrative shell. Primary PDC received approximately 35 percent of the "new" Polaroid, which was to be distributed to its unsecured creditors[12] (including bondholders).[14] As of late 2006 Primary PDC remained in existence under Chapter 11 protection, but conducts no commercial business and has no employees.[13]

Use of Polaroid brand following bankruptcy[edit]

After the bankruptcy, the Polaroid brand was licensed for use on other products with the assistance of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. In September 2002, World Wide Licenses, a subsidiary of The Character Group plc, was granted the exclusive rights for three years to manufacture and sell digital cameras under the Polaroid brand for distribution internationally.[15] Polaroid branded LCDs and plasma televisions and portable DVD players had also appeared on the market.

On April 27, 2005, Petters Group Worldwide announced its acquisition of PHC. Petters has in the past bought up failed companies with well-known names for the value of those names. The same year, Flextronics purchased Polaroid's manufacturing operations and the decision was made to send most of the manufacturing to China.[16] The "new" Polaroid Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 18, 2008.[17] That year, Polaroid announced that the company would stop producing analog instant film.

Auction for Polaroid Corp's Assets[edit]

On April 2, 2009, Patriarch Partners won an auction for Polaroid Corporation's assets including the company's name, intellectual property, and photography collection. Patriarch' $59.1 million bid beat bids from PHC Acquisitions, Hilco Consumer Capital Corp and Ritchie Capital.

This led to some very contentious fighting and litigation, and Patriarch wound up walking away in early May, 2009, and a joint venture between Gordon Brothers Brands LLC and Hilco Consumer Capital LP picked up the pieces. Quoting from a Reuters report which quoted some participants:

"The move by New York-based Patriarch, a private-equity firm, [to drop their claim], follows US District Judge James Rosenbaum's ruling on Thursday in Minneapolis that putting the purchase on hold during appeal would threaten operations at Polaroid, which is spending its cash at a rate of $3 million a month."

On April 16, 2009, Polaroid won US Bankruptcy Court approval to be sold to a joint venture of Hilco Consumer Capital LP of Toronto and Gordon Brothers Brands LLC of Boston.[18]

Hilco Consumer Capital and Gordon Brothers Brands announced the closing of the purchase of Polaroid Corporation on May 7, 2009 placing Polaroid Corporation in joint holding under a parent company named PLR IP Holdings, LLC. Former Executive Vice President and General Manager - Americas, Scott W. Hardy was named as the new President of Polaroid Corporation and PLR IP Holdings, LLC. The majority of employees remained in their positions at the company's Minnetonka, Minnesota headquarters as well as office locations in Boston, New York and Toronto.[19]

On June 19, 2009, the new holding corporation for Polaroid, PLR IP Holdings, LLC announced an exclusive 5-year agreement with Summit Global Group to produce and distribute Polaroid branded digital still cameras, digital video cameras, digital photo frames and PoGo branded mobile products. Summit Global Group added several former Polaroid employees to their staff. The company expects the agreement to yield $1.3 billion in retail sales over an unspecified period beginning in 2009.[20]

Other ventures[edit]

Corporate sponsorship of motorsports[edit]

In the 1990s, Polaroid was involved in the corporate sponsorship of NASCAR. For several years, Polaroid was the principal sponsor of NASCAR's 125 mile Featherlite Modified race at Watkins Glen and it was called the "Polaroid 125".[21] The Polaroid name was also used in sponsorship in the NASCAR Busch series. In 1992, Polaroid was the principal sponsor of female NASCAR driver Shawna Robinson's #25 Oldsmobile in the Busch Series. They continued as her principal sponsor when she moved to the other car numbers in 1993 and 1994.[22]

Polaroid currently sponsors the Target Chip Ganassi[23] entry of Juan Pablo Montoya's #42 Chevy Impala[24] in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and entries in the IRL Indy Car Series, including the car driven by Dario Franchitti.[25][26]

The Polaroid name has also been associated with the NOPI drift series. Polaroid was the principal sponsor of the Nissan 350Z driven by Nick Bollea in the 2007 season.[27][28][29]

Discontinuation and planned relaunch of Polaroid film[edit]

On February 8, 2008, Polaroid (under the control of Thomas J. Petters of Petters Group Worldwide) announced that the company has decided to gradually cease production and withdraw from analog instant film products completely in 2008.[30]

Austrian photographer Florian Kaps, the owner of the largest online vendor for SX-70 films and organizer of the web-based instant photo gallery Polanoid.net, had bought the approximately 500,000 film packages that were on stock. He teamed with André Bosman, a former head of film production in the large Polaroid film factory at Enschede, designed a plan to redesign the SX-70/600 film system in collaboration with Ilford Photo, and convinced the Polaroid owners to participate. Plans for a relaunch under the Impossible label were announced in January 2009.[31] Buildings in the Enschede plant, which had produced 30 million film packs in 2007 and 24 million in the first half of 2008, were leased to the company created by Kaps, who by May 2009 had raised $2.6 million from friends and family[32] for what he had named The Impossible Project.[33]

On March 22, 2010, The Impossible Project announced the release of two monochromatic films, PX100 and PX600, compatible with SX-70 and 600 type cameras, respectively.[34] Color films were initially released in 2010 for SX-70 type cameras, followed in 2011 with the release of much improved color films for Polaroid 600, SX-70 and Spectra Cameras.

Polaroid had originally announced a new camera, styled after older models to coincide with the new films, but this was due before Christmas 2010—a deadline which passed with no new information on this new camera.

On April 28, 2012 the documentary "Time Zero: The Last Year of Polaroid Film", directed by Grant Hamilton, was released in the U.S. It covers the rise, fall, and grass-roots revival of Polaroid's instant film technology.

Mobile printers[edit]

In summer 2008 Polaroid released the PoGo, an instant photo printer producing 2 by 3 inches (51 mm × 76 mm) prints. It uses the ZINK ("zero ink") technology which is similar to dye sublimation but has the dye crystals embedded in the photo paper itself.[35] Models CZA-10011B and CZA-20011B exist (which Polaroid claim to be identical).[36]

In 2009, the CZA-05300B PoGo, a 5 megapixel digital camera integrated with a Zink printer, was released.[37]

In 2011, the company released the Polaroid GL10 Instant Mobile Printer producing 3 by 4 inch prints.[38] The printer, designed by Polaroid and Lady Gaga, allows people to print directly from a mobile phone or digital camera.[38] This product is the first product in the new Polaroid Grey Label line.[38]

Digital photography[edit]

Polaroid released a line of cameras without printers including the t1035, a 10 megapixel digital camera.[39]

In January 2012, Polaroid announced a new "smart camera", entitled the Polaroid SC1630 smart camera, which is powered by Google Android. The SC1630 is a combination of a camera and a portable media player, that allows users to take photos with a built-in 16 MP HD camera, download apps from Google Play, check their email, and browse the web. The built-in camera allows 3X optical zoom, and other features on the media player include wi-fi, touch screen, geo-tagging, smart albums, and 32 GB of memory via a micro SD card.[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jewell, Mark (2008-02-08). "After 60 years, Polaroid quits instant film business". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-02-16. [dead link]
  2. ^ Polaroid PDC-2000 Digital Camera
  3. ^ a b "Polaroid and One Equity Partners Complete Asset Acquisition", New Polaroid Corporation. Press release dated 2002-07-31, retrieved 2006-12-01.
  4. ^ Polaroid Abandons Instant Photography
  5. ^ Industries Frantic To Find Polaroid Instant Film
  6. ^ a b Front page, Primary PDC website. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
  7. ^ Front page, Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
  8. ^ "Lady Gaga Named Creative Director for Polaroid Product LineImpact PR". Impactpr.co.nz (Press release). ImpactPR. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  9. ^ [1], Polaroid. Retrieved 2010-5-2010.
  10. ^ a b c d e f History of Polaroid and Edwin Land. The Boston Globe. 3 Oct. 2012. [2]
  11. ^ "Shareholders", Primary PDC website. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
  12. ^ a b c Frieswick, Kris, "What's wrong with this picture?", cfo.com. Article dated 2003-01-01, retrieved 2006-11-30. (p1: Sale of business/assets, controversy. p4: Renamed as Primary PDC, distribution to unsecured creditors).
  13. ^ a b FAQ, Primary PDC, Inc. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
  14. ^ O'Neill, Jerry "The New Polaroid: After Chapter 11", "From the October 2002 Issue of Imaging Business" via imaginginfo.com. Article updated 2006-02-08, retrieved 2006-12-01.
  15. ^ Press release for camera licensing agreement (PDF), World Wide Licenses Ltd. Article dated 2002-09-24, retrieved 2006-12-01.
  16. ^ RRPC Newsletter, Issue 15, September 2005.
  17. ^ "Tom Petters' Polaroid files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy", Star Tribune. Retrieved on 18 December 2008.
  18. ^ "Polaroid sale can proceed, judge rules", Boston Globe. Retrieved on 7 May 2009..
  19. ^ "Press Release: Hilco Consumer Capital and Gordon Brothers Brands Announce Closing of Polaroid Sale" dated May 7, 2009. Retrieved December 29, 2009..
  20. ^ "Press Release: Polaroid Brand Announces Partnership with The Summit Global Group of Companies" dated June 19, 2009. Retrieved on December 29, 2009.
  21. ^ http://members.aol.com/Autoracg/1997high.html
  22. ^ "Shawna Robinson 1993 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series Results". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  23. ^ Target Ganassi Racing Sponsors
  24. ^ Juan Pablo Montoya Official Site
  25. ^ http://sports.yahoo.com/irl/news?slug=ap-indy500[dead link]
  26. ^ "Indy 500". Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 
  27. ^ http://hogandrift.com/index.html
  28. ^ http://hogandrift.com/copy_of_index.html
  29. ^ Bay News 9
  30. ^ "Notification of Polaroid Instant Film Availability". Polaroid Corporation. 2008-02-18. Retrieved 2009-06-20. [dead link]
  31. ^ Dugan, Emily (2009-01-18). "Smile! Polaroid is saved". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  32. ^ Dougherty, Carter (2009-05-25). "Polaroid Lovers Try to Revive Its Instant Film". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  33. ^ Robertson, Justin (2009-03-06). "Can one man save Polaroid?". National Post. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  34. ^ "Impossible relaunches Polaroid's instant films, ends three years of speculations". British Journal of Photography. 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  35. ^ Zink official website
  36. ^ "What is the difference between a CZA-10011, CZA-20011 and a PoGo Printer?". PLR Ecommerce. Retrieved 12 February 2014. "PoGo printer is the common name for the original Polaroid Instant Mobile printer which produces 2*3 instant prints. CZA-10011 and CZA-20011 are model numbers for the PoGo Printer and differ only in their packaging." 
  37. ^ Polaroid CZA-05300B digital camera with integrated printer
  38. ^ a b c Staff, Voxy. "Lady Gaga Launches Mobile Printer." September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  39. ^ Polaroid t1035 digital camera
  40. ^ http://www.polaroid.com/en/press/2012/1/10/polaroid-announces-sc1630-smart-camera[dead link]

External links[edit]