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Blipfoto and Polaroid

I have posted this as a comment to the Blip Central blog, but in case folk don't see it there, I'd also like to share it here.


Unlike some I'm feeling positive about these developments.

As one who has come to value Blipfoto greatly, I've been worrying for a while about its financial solidity. As far as I could see the sums just couldn't have been stacking up.

My greatest fear was a sell out to someone like Twitter. What commonly happens in such cases - does anyone remember Posterous - is that the "big beast" strips the intellectual capital, diverts it into projects of its own, then shuts down its purchase.

Good materially for Joe who would get a just reward for his hard work but the rest of us are left high and dry.

I'm keen to know more about the Polaroid deal but it looks like:-

a) this is a partnership not a takeover;
b) Blipfoto gets a much needed income stream;
c) Polaroid gets a branded platform to develop its online presence.

I'm encouraged by the initial publicity. While big corporates can change strategic direction on a pin head, it looks like Polaroid are genuine about wanting to sustain Joe's vision of Blipfoto as a vibrant photographic community and equally it looks as if Joe has reversion rights should it all go wrong.

The news also makes sense of the unsatisfactory goings on over the past three weeks. As a "life member" part of me feels let down by the lack of transparency from Blip Central but I also appreciate that Joe and the team have probably been operating under commercial confidentiality restrictions.

So I'm sticking with it.

There's a good write up from Time about developments here:-

http://time.com/3652007/polaroid-blipfoto/

jcdodds

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20 comments

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But why would anybody sell their soul to a has been company. People under 30 are scratching their heads ask who the hell they are.
A back wards move together with a total lack of functionality, I think Blipcentral have lost the plot.

parlick -4 votes
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I agree, I was concerned how blip could keep going too. I think Joe totally understands people's deep love and fondness for blip and it could have been a lot worse.

shev 1 vote
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@parlick:-

a) while I could be wrong, I don't think Blipfoto has "sold it's soul". I infer that Joe retains ownership/reversion rights;

b) frankly, I don't think Blipoto is negotiating from any kind of financial strength. While I have no inside information, I would amazed if Blip's income from memberships was covering its costs.

Maybe there is a funkier company out there whom Blip could have partnered with, Personally, I'd have loved a partnership with Nikon but, even if this were on Nikon's agenda, it would no doubt cause pain with the 50% of Blip subscribers who are in the Canon camp.

jcdodds 0 votes
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I just worry about the feeling I have that the involvement in a comunity is slipping away. It began for me when notification of "blipdays" less than 365 was discontinued. With the new site there is no "just started" page so we can no longer welcome new blippers and give them support and encouragement. Also now I no longer get notified of the amazing "blipdays" of those who have done thousands of blips often without a break.

This all tends to make me feel as if I have been shunted into a siding able to communicate only with the small group I follow and who follow me.

A sad loss.

Jerra 1 vote
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@jcdodds - re the notion of partnering with Nikon, you've forgotten us Pentaxians (no matter; most do :p ) or the many cameraphone blippers. ;)

Thanks for the Time link. I'll go see now. I certainly don't really understand the level of distress and particularly anger, over the impending changes (which so far amounts to a brand and a url...)

tsuken 0 votes
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Well said. It's a shame to see so much negativity around the recent changes. Yes, I can see many of the points being made but the changes are there and we need to roll with it otherwise the community is going to disintegrate because of us, not the changes. Well done Joe, G and the team. Like you say, it could've been a lot worse. I suppose we just need to watch this space, keep our fingers crossed and keep blipping.

LizImbrie 0 votes
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personally , i don't give a hoot about Polaroid's on-line presence . if one partner as more financial clout than the other then it's essentaially a take over . as for sustaining blip , it's been changed out of recognition , the only thing still recognisable ( until today ) was the name was the same

monkey -1 votes
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As a newby Blipper I am a bit disappointed that some of the advertised functionality of this site has now gone especially after I've only been a member for a few months...
I can see the need for getting sponsorship from a business perspective and hope that as things develop some of the things that made Blipfoto so attractive to me in the first place, come back.
I find the new site clunky but just about useable and I hope they go back and develop the iPad app again as I used that whilst travelling and it was great...
Here's hoping things continue to get better...

Yana1 1 vote
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There is some interesting reading if you look at the documents deposited at Companies House for Blipfoto Limited. I am not an expert in reading Company's returns but it looks as though the accounts show an appreciable drop in assets between 2013 and 2014. That could bear out concerns about the sites long term financial viability. As early as August last year, Polaroid had preference shares in Blipfoto Limited, as reported in their annual return.

GrahamColling 1 vote
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I just deleted my comment since I saw the main point had been addressed by Joe tonight. It seems that this is not a takeover or merger but a partnership agreement between two separate companies. I don't know whether the founders got any dosh out of it but I hope so. I thought the Q&A was very helpful, the boy done well!

RichardDonkin 0 votes
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Well, I hate the new Blip! Tack tacky tack tack! The functionality is lessened and the community is lessened too. I am sorry so many members seem to be ok with this blatant selling off of the family silver. Quite frankly, if this is what's required for the communities viability, I would rather do something else.

beerdadtwy 0 votes
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Economics rule, it would be naïve to deny it. But (a) as someone said, why team up with a has-been? And (b) why lose the elegance and photography-friendly livery of the old site?

MarieNoelle 0 votes
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The key to it is the USA. Polaroid may be forgotten here but in the States it remains a well known, trusted brand (like Kodak). And (hard though it may be for many of us over 50 to take), I suspect the core demographic of a site like Blipfoto is old enough to remember and hanker after real Polaroids. They maybe own one and sometimes load it up with Impossible film. And there are enough hipsters who will get the connection between the core purpose of Blipfoto and the role that Polaroids played for their parents.

When my parents died, the photos I took away of my childhood are Polaroids. The connection between the notion of saving your life and Polaroid is visceral, hard-wired into a generation that grew up with Polaroids, Kodak 126 cameras, cube flashes, square prints, under-saturated, soft focus snaps and strips of four from a Photo-Me booth. These are the people who will now pay money to curate their own lives and that of their children and grandchildren as both memory and legacy.

Have a search for iPhone apps that try to recreate these formats and you'll start to see why a partnership with Polaroid is sensible. There's a big market in that thing done well.

Personally, I disagree with jcdodds only to the extent that I doubt Joe is banking much from Blipfoto (yet - but good luck to him when he does). I'd doubt Polaroid have put much money into this partnership. They've given the name, which has value in itself, to an extent that I have to laugh at people whining about Polaroid preceding Blipfoto. In the American market, Polaroid has traction and Blipfoto has, err, a website.

It's symbiotic - Blipfoto get a rocket boost into the US with the brand backing of Polaroid and Polaroid acquire a cool, new presence in an essentially family-oriented, online website. Frankly, in their shoes, if that had meant bringing the look of the site into line with Polaroid's you wouldn't have had to ask me twice. If it costs a few members too precious to have their 'work' displayed against a white background, I'd say 'meh' and carry on. Joe and his team have two responsibilities - first to the continued existence and future viability of Blipfoto and then to delivering the functionality they promised. In that order.

I'll say that I know Joe a little but not well but well enough to know that this site is his and he'll continue to nurture it and pursue the idea that he had for it even if it means a twisting, circuitous route to get there. Cut Blip some slack and let them get it done. You can bail out any time you like but these people have tied their jobs, mortgages and futures to it (and probably their kids' inheritance). Stick around and watch. It's interesting.

Instography 1 vote
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Monkey I am not sure where your comment about financial clout is leading. Polaroid has been in the hands of a receiver Blipfoto to the best of my knowledge hasn't.

Are you suggesting Blipfoto has taken over Polaroid?

Jerra 0 votes
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If blipfoto was to go under, Joe would lose as much as anyone - if not more - as his was the original journal here before opening it up to a few friends and then the wider world. It is his baby, and I truly believe he would never knowingly do anything that would damage blip or its reputation. Of course as communities grow there are always increased likelihood that people will be disappointed by decisions. You can't please 'em all.

Arwen 0 votes