Monday, March 17, 2008

Polaroid's Sunset (and Sunrise)

Sunday's column was about the seeds of Polaroid: interesting companies relying on people, equipment, or ideas from the fading Polaroid Corporation.

Polaroid, once one of Massachusetts' great engines of innovation, is now basically a licensing operation, allowing Asian electronics companies to stamp an intrinsically American brand on DVD players, digital cameras, TVs, etc. The company, I'm told, has no true internal R&D function left. The current owner of Polaroid, Petters Group Worldwide, refused to disclose to me how many employees are left. (The peak was about 15,000, in the 1970s.)

One reader wrote in to me after the column ran and said that he'd inquired about buying Polaroid's instant film business, which Petters decided to shut down last month. The company hasn't returned his calls.

Here's this week's video -- a demo given to me last week by Wendy Caswell, chief executive of Polaroid spin-off ZINK Imaging.

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