How did Polaroid end up bankrupt? They’re looking at either selling the company, or filing Chapter 11. They expect to default on over $30m of loan payments in the next few months.

It’s easy to say that they were caught out by digital cameras, but it’s not that simple. I remember the early days of digital photography, around 1996-97. For a while, Polaroid were leaders in the field—the PDC-2000 was well-reviewed, and praised for its outstanding image quality. Later on, Polaroid launched digital cameras at consumer prices that were competitive with those from Nikon, Canon, Kodak, and so on.

They also knew their patents on instant photography were going to expire. So what happened? Why did they throw all their energies at cheap plastic instant cameras with pictures of The Spice Girls and Hello Kitty on them, and ignore digital? Maybe someone will write a book about it, like the various books about how Apple and Xerox made incredibly boneheaded decisions. For now, my guess is that someone high up wasn’t able to demonstrate flexibility.

I miss the Polaroid head office that used to be in Tech Square. And I was sorry when the other Polaroid building on the riverfront had its classic 30s design ruined.