Getty Images Buys iStockphoto
Well Andy Goetze over at StockPhotoTalk was right: Getty Images, as he predicted, did aquire iStockphoto. And with this aquistion one of the greats of stock photography has admitted that there is something to this whole microstock business thing.
From camertown.com: “iStockphoto, the world’s leading stock photography community, today announced that it has been acquired by Getty Images, Inc. (NYSE:GYI), the world’s leading creator and distributor of visual content. The acquisition underscores the growing importance of social media and places Getty Images at the forefront of the explosive growth of the imagery industry’s value segment.”
The price tag? $50 million.
So what does this mean? Well it means that Getty, formerly the elite club for the top pro photographers commanding the highest stock photo fees is realizing that the world is in fact changing. And boy is it. While this move is bound to further disturb some of Getty’s photographers who are already starting to feel the intrusion of high quality gear and cheap digital images coming from amatuers, it is nonetheless, in a lot of ways, the admission that cheap digital images are going to play a big role in the stock photography business of tomorrow.
And why shouldn’t they? Aside from the fact that it errodes your livlihood if you are a pro, the fact of the matter is that amatuers are taking some of the best photography out there these days. As the digital camera has continued to evolve and cheapen and photo sharing sites like Flickr make it easier than ever to share your images, at some point someone is going to see the value of all of these new images that are being created. And being created they are — at an amazing rate. Getty’s move here is just the latest acceptance of this fact of life.
of course, the Stock Asylum is pointing out that Getty is carefully trying to put their spin on the story, “The acquisition iStockphoto by Getty Images will have virtually no impact on photographers who supply work to regular Getty brands, company spokesperson Deb Trevino said Thursday afternoon.” Stock Asylum adds, “Like JupiterImages before it, Getty Images is clearly concerned that the move into the world of micropayment stock photography will alienate some photographers who see inexpensive photography as a threat.” This of course is true and the truth of the matter is that there will always be a market for the very best pros out there and there probably will continue to be a segmented market for stock photography in the near term. But long-term it will most likely be the very top established pros that survive and then a bunch of amatuers producing the rest of the images for sale.
Yahoo!, through Flickr, is better positioned than anyone in my opinion at present to build the tools necessary to filter high quality images and begin seriously attacking this new long tail of the stock photography market at it’s sweetest spot. We will see what happens.
Andy, of course, also asks the interesting question of where Corbis is in all of this.