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Case Title:

The Downfall of Polaroid: Corporate Lessons(Part A)

Publication Year : 2007

Authors: Vandana Singh, Amy Sonpal

Industry: Engineering, Electrical and Electronics


Case Code: COT0012A

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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In October 2001, Polaroid Corporation, the pioneer of instant photography filed for federal bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Though it was a global brand name in 2007, the corporate entity of this pioneer got lost in the way. Founded in 1937 by Edwin Land, Polaroid entered the imaging industry in 1948 with advent of first ever instant camera. Polaroid soon developed a cult status for instant cameras. But soon its golden years got over. In late 1980s, the digital technology revolutionized the picture taking industry. Polaroid under the influence of its immensely valued core business of instant photography could not anticipate magnitude of challenges from Digital evolution and it also entered in the game late. The company not only failed to position itself in digital imaging but also lost its drive for instant photography. In spite of being a research-and-development-driven company, Polaroid could not save its technology driven core business of instant cameras. In October 2001, the corporation after bankruptcy sold most of the business (including the "Polaroid" name itself and non-bankrupt foreign subsidiaries) to One Equity Partners (OEP), a partner of Bank One Corporation. Although OEP Imaging Corporation changed its name to Polaroid Holding Company (PHC), the original Polaroid Corporation changed its name to Primary PDC Inc. In April 2005, Petters Group Worldwide (PGW) announced its acquisition of PHC for US $ 426 million. The case details the evolution and growth of Polaroid as a corporation and a brand. It ends on a debate over a question of Polaroid’s success as a brand vs its failure as a corporate entity.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To understand the importance of peripheral vision
  • The importance of innovation in a dynamic industry like imaging
  • To discuss why Polaroid a globally successful brand failed as a corporate entity

Keywords : Polaroid; Instant Photography; Edwin Herbert Land; Innovation; Core Business; Business Strategy; Patents; Product Development; Product Positioning; Technological Change; Change Management; Organisational Inertia; ‘Chapter 11’ Bankruptcy; Corporate Transformation Case Study; Takeover and Acquisitions; Leadership Styles; Financial Restructuring; Digital Imaging and Competition; Kodak

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