Polaroid, a name nearly synonymous with the history of photography, unveiled its plan for “The Future of Polaroid” at a posh event in Manhattan yesterday: music.
The future is Polaroid Music, and while this future departs from Polaroid’s photography legacy, the company tries to embrace the nostalgic properties of the instant film history it comes from in this new venture.
Polaroid Music is part of how Polaroid plans to create what it calls an “ecosystem of products” and arrives in two forms. The first is a collection of four streaming audio Bluetooth speakers, which resemble a combination of a 1980s Sony boombox and a 1970s Fisher Price record player.
The speakers range in size from the diminutive P1, which is about the same size as a HomePod if you squeeze it horizontally in a vise. The far end of the spectrum is the P4, a more PA-sized unit that would look nice at a party and has an accessory stand to hold the unit at waist height.
They feature a unique dial reminiscent of an analog stereo’s frequency dial, allowing users to dial in various online music sources. Multiple speakers can be paired together to create stereo sound but only the smallest unit, the P1, can be combined into a dual-speaker stereo system by tapping two units together — something reminiscent of the design sensibilities of Apple of old.
The speakers come in various colors, which are primarily the Polaroid-logo mainstays of black, yellow, red, and blue, but skipped over the green. Some units are also available in a smoky gray.
Polaroid says it “obsessed” over the speakers, consulting with audio experts and sound designers.
“Engineered by is from the ground up to have unique Polaroid sound. We wanted it to sound like a Polaroid picture,” the company says.
The second part of Polaroid’s audio plan is a streaming music service with five channels the company referred to as “sonic worlds.” Each channel covers a different genre, including pop, hip hop, and more. Described as an experimental take on internet radio. songs on the stations can’t be skipped or fast-forwarded, but the service will be ad-free “for now,” according to Polaroid.
The company says says Polaroid Radio is the heart and soul of the Polaroid Players and they are designed to work in tandem. When connected, the dial on the speakers allows them to be controlled without touching the phone, which the company says adds to the analog experience.
“The human curation is the focus,” Polaroid explains. “Each station is the vision of talented creators, artists, DJs and musicians that curated up-and-coming tracks as well as old favorites to transport you. Tune in to Itchy Teeth, Polychrome, Royal Pine, Heatwave, or Iris stations to suit every moment and mood.”
The new speakers start at $59.99 for the tiny P1 and run to $289 for the largest P4. The P2 and P3 are $129 and $189 respectively. All are available directly from Polaroid’s website.