Polaroid, once synonymous with those smeared overlit instant photos that were a miracle product of the 70’s and 80’s, is ending its production of instant film. If Generation X had its births marked with the instant photo, the births of the next generation are increasingly being marked with technologies that make the instant photo irrelevant. While your high end digital camera won’t produce instant photos, small portable photo printers can produce them at need, but more to the point instant product no longer matters, when you have instant file portability.
To that extent the American companies who turned down the fax machine were right, it was a dead technology, unfortunately for them, like Robert A. Heinlein and his supercarriers of the last war, they were a little too forward thinking and the fax machine probably won’t go the way of instant film for another decade or so. But it doesn’t really matter, in a digital environment, file portability, replaces paper and photo production. And as the grip of the digital environment tightens the truly paperless office draws one step closer.
The tricky part of course is understanding how to maneuver in all this. No one really thought that instant photos would be forever but they were convenient in a way that digital cameras and photo printers are not and won’t be. At no point in time are we really going to see a camera and photo printer combined except as a gimmick. While the Polaroid may not have stood the test of time, it did stand the test of convenience.