Inmagine Launches IRIS for Open Submissions

Posted on 4/9/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Houston-based Inmagine Corp. has launched IRIS, which stands for Inmagine RM & RF Image Submission. Borrowing from the community-based business models of micro-payment agencies, IRIS is an online submission interface in which Inmagine editors consider uploaded images. The resulting IRIS collection will be marketed to image buyers starting this quarter.

A number of established agencies, hybrid newcomers and online sales platforms already accept images from semi-pro and amateur shooters. The Big Three allow their best-performing microstock contributors to move up to premium royalty-free brands. Younger companies including Alamy and PhotoShelter are growing by offering open access.

In this context, Inmagine's move is not surprising, particularly since the company owns one of the top microstock Web sites: Though IRIS says it seeks submissions from image suppliers and professional photographers, the deciding factor for representation is image quality. While somewhat subjective, this clearly opens the door for micro producers alongside traditional pros. It also confirms the prediction of further blending between traditional and new business models, as well as growing competition among photographers.

Still, IRIS promises a new source of revenue from a company that has been a stable producer for many stock providers. As a private company, Inmagine does not reveal financial information. However, anecdotal reports place Inmagine's traditional royalty-free revenues close to Fotosearch, somewhere between $5 million and $20 million per year. Given the leading status of 123rf and what iStock's recent disclosure of revenues says about the microstock market's size, Inmagine's total revenue could be as high as that of Alamy or Image Source.

There are other indicators of stability. Established in 2000, Inmagine launched 123rf in 2005. In addition to its Texas headquarters, the company has offices in London, Australia, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Its multilingual, high-traffic Web site hosts a collection of close to 3 million images from over 100 royalty-free brands, including top sellers such as Getty Images' Digital Vision. Inmagine also offers 24-hour customer support, lists job openings and claims to be "the world's largest royalty-free stock image content provider." It did not respond to inquiries at press time.

Potential IRIS contributors are asked to register and submit five images using Inmagine's Flash-based FTP interface. Initial approvals take less than five business days, and subsequent additions to IRIS by approved photographers or production houses will take under seven days.

The acceptance bar is traditionally high. Acceptable images start at 8 megapixels or 30 megabytes for scans. In addition to other rigid technical criteria, Inmagine vice-president of sales and marketing Stephanie Sitt says that all submitted content will go through a stringent quality review by the company's content-acquisition staff.

Why should suppliers join? According to Sitt, the company offers control, transparency and service assurance. Contributors set their own prices and choose either the royalty-free or rights-managed licensing model. Inmagine's default licensing prices are based on PLUS Packs, which many believe will soon become the industry standard. Contributor commission is 50% of net proceeds. Finally, the company also guarantees the same service to suppliers as to buyers, by providing 24-hour access to content-management staff during the workweek.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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