More Thoughts On Adobe/Fotolia

Posted on 2/2/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

After reading “If I were Adobe” Zeke Koch wrote, “I don’t totally get it. Why do you think we should avoid adding stock to Creative Cloud subscriptions?” I probably didn’t make my arguments clear. The following may help.

While Fotolia Pack prices fall under Fotolia’s subscription plans, for me it is hard to really call those subscription prices. Rather the customer is purchasing a license to download a small, fixed number of images over a period of time at a price that is greatly discounted compared to paying for them one at a time. This is very different from subscriptions that offer “25 downloads per day” even though almost no one ever downloads that many.

If you look at the way Adobe’s subscriptions for their other products are structured they are basically the same as Fotolia’s “25 downloads per day” variety where the customer gets all the use they could possibly need. Adobe can make its wholly owned software available at very reasonable prices, but when it comes to dealing with photos that require payment to a creator for every photo downloaded or used there is no way to structure a subscription price that will both seem reasonable to most customers and adequately compensate creators.

Compare Adobe’s and Fotolia’s prices

Adobe Unlimited Fotolia Specific
  Use of   Number
  Product   Images
Photoshop and Lightroom $9.99 mo 5 images $20
Single App such as:
$19.99 mo 10 images $32
     Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign      
Several Products $49.99 mo 25 images $60
25 images a day $249 mo    
  $2,362 year    

If the “we” in your question is Adobe, I don’t think they will be able to come up with a single monthly price that will be attractive to customers and allow unlimited use of images just like they do with software. Thus, the pack licensing strategy is the obvious answer. They might bring Fotolia’s Image Pack pricing template over to Adobe, but that doesn’t fit well with the way they currently promote their other products.

Fotolia’s 25-image-a-day subscriptions won’t work for most customers, In addition, the pricing is very similar to Fotolia’s competitors so there is no big incentive for customers who haven’t been using Fotolia to switch. On the other hand there is a significant advantage for the customer, and a huge marketing opportunity for Adobe, if they promote Fotolia Pack pricing. (See the Price Comparison Charts)

If the “we” in your question is photographers then in all likelihood they will be making more unit sales when Fotolia is promoted on the Creative Cloud than they have been making from Fotolia up to now. Their Fotolia revenue should go up. Obviously, this is a good thing if Fotolia is there only source of income.

But, I suspect most photographers who have images on Fotolia also have many of the same images on Shutterstock, iStock, Dreamstime and others. Unless Adobe can find a whole bunch of new customers who haven’t been using images up to now (unlikely), every new Creative Cloud license (that Fotolia wouldn’t have received before) will probably result in one less image licensed from one of the other distributors.

Thus, instead of a sale that netted Shutterstock $9.16 Fotolia will be making a sale for $2.80. The photographer’s royalty share is probably about the same on both sites so chances are the photographer’s combined revenue from all sources will be less than it has been in the past.

I’m certainly not suggesting that photographers pull their images from Fotolia and not allow them to be marketed through the Creative Cloud. If a significant percentage of contributors were to do that it might force Adobe to change its pricing and marketing strategy, but it seems highly unlikely that enough photographers will pull out to bring about such a change. Thus, for any individual to pull out is probably counter productive.

On the other hand, if a photographer is dependent to a certain degree on microstock income, and taking pictures is not just a fun hobby, the photographer should watch his/her 2015 revenue trends closely. It seems likely that for many their average overall earnings will go down.

Adobe certainly expects Fotolia revenue to grow. For that to happen it probably means cannibalization of revenue from other players in the industry.

Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. 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

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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