Friday, August 22, 2014

Instant Cameras in the Digital Age?

A few years ago, a South Korean soap opera ignited a fad for cute, compact instant-photo cameras made by FujiFilm. The Cheki has been on the market since 1998, and after a strong start, sales plateaued as smart phones and tablets took center stage.

Then the soap opera featured characters using the handheld camera, which prints business-card-size photos in moments, and celebrity-watching teens took notice and began buying. And yes, the camera requires film--a novelty in itself (and another way to gain revenue month after month once consumers buy the camera).

The Cheki (and its later sibling, the Instax Mini) have been marketed through Walmart, Amazon, and other US retail outlets. Cute, stylish, unusual, and attention-getting. FujiFilm itself has been savvy in transitioning strategy for the digital age, diversifying beyond film products and getting experience in electronic technologies.

Polaroid pioneered the instant camera market...then suffered a series of financial setbacks as the photo industry evolved and digital alternatives became affordable and popular. The Polaroid brand lives on, with a range of imaging products that includes instant cameras and, brand-new, a lightweight Cube video cam made specifically for sports activities. So a brand that made its name in film cameras has wound up with film and digital imaging equipment.

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