Trouble.

Over at Forbes, Martin Sosnoff, a money manager who started watching Polaroid in 1961, explains here why APPL probably is not about to follow PRD down the drain, despite that provocative headline. All the same, he suggests that Apple ought to be paying a dividend, and that it needs to generally be paying more attention to its shareholders.

Can’t say I entirely agree. If I owned Apple stock, I’d have been pretty happy these past couple of years. Besides, paying out dividends would mean spending less on Apple’s greatest asset—its awesome product-development machinery—which seems shortsighted to me.

But I’ll say that Sosnoff does include an extremely astute reading of what happened at Polaroid in the sixties and seventies, and that makes me wonder if he knows something here. Most of all, he recognizes one fact that most analysts miss: that the first real competitor that Polaroid had trouble with was not digital cameras, not cell-phone cameras, not Kodak instant film, but the one-hour photo lab. It was Kodak’s doing, via a new high-temperature processing system introduced around 1970, and it really dug into Polaroid’s reason for being. The difference between seeing your photo after a couple of days vs. seeing it in 60 seconds had been inarguable. But if you could get a 35-mm. roll processed while you were grocery-shopping–well, for a great deal of everyday photography, that was a much more tolerable situation.

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