Picture This: Polaroid As Yet Another Video Game Accessory Maker

Last Updated Apr 28, 2010 4:37 PM EDT

Polaroid is back! Sort of, and in a very odd way. The company has set aside its bread-and-butter -- simple, affordable cameras -- and decided to pursue the aftermarket video game accessory market. Yes, the storied camera company that was synonymous with instant photography is putting its efforts into wireless controllers and battery packs. It has very little history with the video game business and, from a brand standpoint, the Polaroid name is foreign to gamers and now further disconnected from photographers.

From MCV:

Polaroid - famous for its instant cameras - has a huge range of peripherals for Xbox 360, Wii, DS and PS3.

These include sports packs and a sensor bar for Wii, a microphone headset and battery packs for Xbox 360, third party wireless controllers for PS3 and a dock for Nintendo DS.

...

Polaroid relaunched itself at the Consumer Electronics Show in Febuary this year, and revealed pop singer Lady Gaga as its new creative director and 'inventor of specialty products.'

In 2008 Polaroid filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Assets are held by PLR IP Holdings.

Polaroid's post-bankruptcy resurrection is bold, but it makes absolutely no sense for it to destroy its brand to enter an already crowded field.

First, unlike Lego's recent technological reinvention, Polaroid is disregarding its loyal fan base. Look back a few years and one of the most popular songs of last decade, Outkast's "Hey Ya", had the line "Shake it like a Polaroid picture." You can buy branding like that, by paying artists to casually mention your products, but all accounts say that Polaroid did not. Furthermore, even if you did pay for that kind of branding, there is no guarantee that teens, young adults and grandmothers would be shouting out your brand when it comes on the radio. Polaroid has cheapened its formidable cultural currency.

Second, there are a slew of companies that already specialize in the third-party video game accessory business. Belkin, Pelican and a handful of others have been around literally for decades -- I remember getting some of their equipment for my Super Nintendo circa 1992. Video gamers are a loyal lot, and it's unlikely that they would flock to a new manufacturer that previously made cameras for a half century.

It's obvious that Polaroid had to leave its specialty, but it still has other options:

  • Focus on, you know, pictures: Webcams, mobile photography apps, and other options would bring the Polaroid name to the new millennium.
  • Bank on legacy: Did you know Polaroid sells digital instant cameras? I didn't, and I probably would have if the company's weird jump into the video game business weren't taking up the press right now.
We'll see in a year or two, but I'm banking Polaroid's video game accessory endeavors will have very small returns. RELATED: