674 COMSTOCK GOES SUBSCRIPTION
November 2, 2004
Jupitermedia, owner of Comstock, Thinkstock and Photos.com, has just announced a new low-priced subscription service for Comstock images called Comstock 1700k Subscription. By using this option customers may acquire rights to use as many of the 20,000 Comstock images as they want for a one-time annual fee of $1,199. Or the customer can get a six-month license for $799, three months for $499 or one month for $299. Photos.com is a subscription service offering images at about half the above prices. Thinkstock's pricing is standard RF and, as yet, they have no subscription option.
With the Comstock service buyers can download up to 50 images a day for unlimited use so the dedicated buyer could download 18,250 in a year's time - not all 20,000
However, there is one catch. The maximum file size the buyer receives for the subscription price is 1.7MB. This file is 72dpi and according to Comstock suitable for reproduction at about 8.75 X 13 inches. If the buyer wants to convert the file to 300dpi for use in a print product the file would only be sufficient to reproduce at about 2¼ X 3 inches. In their web promotion Comstock says the file size is "perfect for use on Web, multimedia, presentation, newspaper and small professional print pieces." But, it is generally believed that most buyers of this file size are aiming for web or Powerpoint use. If the buyer needs a larger file size he must pay Comstock's normal RF rate.
RF producers tell us that the vast majority of RF sales are for the medium file size of 10MB to 12MB so maybe this offer isn't giving away all that much. It may be just a clever way of dragging customers in so they can up-sell them to a larger file size or a disc.
One thing Jupiter must be concerned about is whether Comstock's larger customers will now find a way to convert a significant portion of their buying to subscription and offset gains from new subscription customers. It is worth noting that the technologies are getting better and better for resing-up files so they will provide quality reproduction at larger sizes. I would think that many volume users would be tempted to purchase images for small to medium size print uses at the subscription price and res them up rather than paying $180 each for a quantity of 10MB files.
Some RF sellers believe most buyers are not sophisticated enough to consider the advantages of resing-up, and thus that there is very little risk. Time will tell if they are right.
What Will Getty Do?
Another interesting twist to this offer is that 9,767 of Comstock's 20,000 images are currently being licensed through Gettyimages.com. Will Getty start offering Comstock Subscriptions on its site, and how will that affect the other RF brands on the site?
Normally, Getty doesn't like for images available on its site to be offered at a lower price point on any other site. On the other hand Getty is looking for a way to offer some RF imagery at a lower price in order to bring credit card customers back to Gettyimages.com. This could be one way to accomplish that goal except that many RF producers think these subscription rates are too high to meet the needs of a lot of the credit card customers. In addition, whatever Getty decides, they probably need to make more then 9,767 images available to their credit card customers at some more favorable price.
Regardless of what Getty does, will some of the RF producers and portals feel that they must start offering subscriptions in order to compete?