While the technology may be clever, some analysts aren’t sure that it has a very large market. “It’s going to be a hard sell, in my opinion,” says Ron Glaz, program director for digital-capture devices and photofinishing research at IDC, a technology research firm. One reason, he says, is that people are accustomed to e-mailing pictures to each other or sending them to each other’s phones, and they probably won’t want to carry around another gadget just to print pictures on the spot. “All these pocket technologies are supposed to simplify the process, but it’s creating a new problem of finding a way to carry all these things with us,” Glaz says. “Other than niche users who might need to print something out on the spot, the use of this type of technology is just limited.”
Polaroid’s Pollock says that his company’s market research shows that teenagers, in particular, like the convenience of being able to print and share digital photos instantly, and 68 percent of teens who tested the device expressed the intent to buy it. Other demographic groups found the device less appealing, Pollock says.
Another reason that Polaroid’s printer might not become widely adopted is more technical. While the Bluetooth communications protocol is common, manufacturers often prevent nonproprietary devices from linking wirelessly with their phones. “Right now we’re working on making sure compatibility with cell phones is as high as it can possibly be,” says Pollock. “The vast majority of cell phones work, but there are instances where the carrier blocks down the Bluetooth interface.” Currently, the iPhone will not work with Polaroid’s printer. Pollock says one of the company’s priorities is to make sure that it will in the future.
Smaller design teams can now prototype and deploy faster.