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A photographic icon is about to fade away

February 09, 2008|From the Associated Press

BOSTON — Polaroid Corp. is dropping the technology it pioneered long before digital photography rendered instant film obsolete to all but a few nostalgia buffs.

Polaroid is closing factories in Massachusetts, Mexico and the Netherlands and cutting 450 jobs as the brand synonymous with instant images focuses on ventures such as a portable printer for images from cellphones and Polaroid-branded digital cameras, television sets and DVD players.

This year's closures will leave the company with 150 employees at its Concord, Mass., headquarters and a site in the nearby Boston suburb of Waltham, down from peak global employment of nearly 21,000 in 1978.

The company has discontinued the manufacturing of its instant cameras during the last two years.

"We're trying to reinvent Polaroid so it lives on for the next 30 to 40 years," said Tom Beaudoin, Polaroid's president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

Polaroid failed to embrace the digital technology that has transformed photography, instead sticking to its belief that many photographers who didn't want to wait to get their pictures developed would hold on to their old Polaroid cameras.

Polaroid instant film will be available in stores through next year, the company said -- after which, Lee said, Japan's Fujifilm will be the only major maker of instant film.

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