See important update below.
I’m presently at the Microstock Pro Photo Summit in Redmond. Lise Gagne, one of the top iStockphoto sellers as well as an artistic director for iStockphoto just finished speaking. Joseph Jean Rolland Dube, iStockphoto’s VP for Content Development is also on stage.
I asked Gagne and Dube to provide some color on the upcoming Flickr/Getty deal. iStockphoto is a 100% Getty owned business.
According to Dube, the Flickr deal had been in the works for a while before yesterday’s announcement. At Getty the deal was code named “Project Populace.” Dube said that in it’s initial launch the Flickr collection at Getty will only include 2,500 images hand selected by Getty Editors — a tiny fraction of the images available at Flickr or for sale at Getty Images.
“The goal from Getty images perspective is to come up with a singularly different collection that is fresh, completely different, handpicked from the corpus of Flickr,” said Dube. “These images will have nothing to do with traditional stock photography or microstock.”
Given that, at least initially, this Getty Collection will only include 2,500 images I seriously wonder how meaningful or significant an effort this will be. It would seem to me that 2,500 images would hardly represent a meaningful economic effort to Getty, Yahoo or the photographers involved. It also makes me wonder how the community at Flickr might react to this deal. With likely far more photographers at Flickr interested than might be room at the inn for, I would suspect that many Flickr photographers who are not selected for this program might feel slighted at not being included. Even if the initiative only included a single image from 2,500 Flickr photographers, I’d think that there would still be many unsatisfied and very talented Flickr photographers left out in the cold.
On Getty’s website they claim that they serve up over 3.2 billion thumbnail images per month. 2,500 would seem to me to be a mere drop in the bucket in terms of what the company offers.
After his presentation, I asked Dube if and when Getty’s Flickr collection might be extended beyond 2,500 images and he would not comment. Dube would say that one of the big reasons for choosing Getty for the deal was that iStockphoto is one of the best companies in the world at clearing images.
JIm Pickerell, who runs the site “Selling Stock” and publishes a stock industry newsletter also shared the stage with Gagne and Dube. Pickerell expressed concern that Getty might not want to spend the money or time editing Flickr’s large collection and also suggested that existing Getty Pros would probably not like the Flickr deal because they have already been seeing declining sales and this would likely only create more competition for their images.
Of course if Getty did not seriously allow very many Flickr images into their collection or gave them less than equal marketing footing this might not represent much of a threat to Getty Pros at all.
Update: I just received a clarification email from Bridget Russell at Getty Images. According to Russell, the 2,500 photos at launch number that was presented today by Dube is not in fact correct.
From Russell: “You have in fact been given an incorrect number. We intend to launch our Flickr collection in the coming months with tens of thousands of images, with thousands more added to the collection each month.”