Several RF distributors report surprise at how few $49 Web use sales have appeared on their Getty Images sales reports in the last few months.
In August, the company dramatically lowered the price for online use of any image in its collection to $49. Getty expected this would attract a significant number of Web buyers. Image suppliers expected it would result in a significant decline in their revenue. Indications are neither occurred.
When the initiative was announced, there was a great hue and cry from image suppliers. The investment community also viewed this move as a negative. Jeff Shelton of Natixis Bleichroeder said: "We believe that any existing Internet-use single-image sales will quickly be cannibalized by this move and do not see much success in up-selling existing microstock buyers who are comfortable buying photos at $2 apiece."
As a result of this pressure, in September Getty reduced the duration of such licenses from one year to three months and in November, more narrowly defined the uses that could qualify for this special price. The net result seems to have made this whole program, which was heavily promoted, unattractive to buyers.
In November, CEO Jonathan Klein told investors that online use was the largest market for stock photography in terms of volume growth. He added that Getty Images licensed fewer than 20,000 RM and RF images (or about 5% of total images licensed) into the Web use market in Q2 2007. At the same time, most of iStock's 4 million downloads in Q2 were for Web usages.
Suppliers won this battle, but as yet haven't figured out how to win the war. In future, the biggest market for stock photography will probably be online. But so far, traditional sellers have not figured out an effective way to participate in that market.