Photos.com to Carry StockXpert Inventory

Posted on 7/29/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)



Those who believe the industry is headed toward a merge of microstock and traditional royalty-free creative stock may soon have validation. Steve Kapsinow, Jupiterimages' community manager for StockXpert, has announced that the microstock's inventory will soon be offered through the company's traditional brand Photos.com.

Established in 2002, Photos.com offers a professionally edited, updated collection of over 350,000 royalty-free images on a subscription basis. It was the first to introduce the subscription structure to the traditional royalty-free market. Packages range from monthly to annual, costing roughly $99 to $500 and allow up to 250 downloads per day.

StockXpert was developed by Hungarian company HAAP Media, which also created the free image-exchange platform Stock.xchng. Jupiterimages made a 49.7% equity investment in HAAP in January 2006; it was raised to a controlling 90% interest by December.

Photos.com and StockXpert are among the leaders in their respective niches. Alexa Internet places the traffic to Photos.com on roughly the same level as Veer, below Getty Images and Corbis, while somewhat above Masterfile. Similarly, StockXpert attracts fewer visitors that iStockphoto, Fotolia and Shutterstock, but exceeds the traffic of 123rf.

Kapsinow made the informal announcement in the StockXpert contributor forum. He expects that images from the microstock's inventory will make it to Photos.com by mid-to-late August. Though details remain sketchy, pending an official program announcement, current information suggests that Photos.com will offer the same images as StockXpert to a different market at a higher price point.

The move will be the first of its kind. While traditional companies that market microstock images allow contributors to move up to premium pricing via varied schemes, no company has tried to sell the same images in both niches.

All StockXpert contributors will be eligible to participate. Kapsinow said that daily download quantities are likely to be restricted to below 250. In addition, only the smaller file sizes will fall under subscription plans, where contributors are paid $0.30 per download. Large and extra-large images will be offered as individual downloads, at incremental fees ranging from $50 to $300, with a 30% photographer commission. Vector images will also be included in the plan under the same conditions.

What is to prevent a Photos.com customer from going to StockXpert to get the same file for less? Kapsinow says it will be client service. "The rights they get are a bit different and the level of service they get is a bit different, as well. Pricing needs to factor in much more than the actual image." In addition, a company that already has a subscription account with Photos.com is likely to use it as its primary resource. It remains unclear how transparent the source of images will be to Photos.com customers. Much of Jupiterimages' inventory is wholly owned, and a random review of several images revealed no credit information other than Photos.com.

In April, Jupiterimages CEO Alan Meckler said StockXpert was having an out-of-the-ordinary growth spurt. "I have been in a business for over 35 years, and it is rare to have an operation that grows as rapidly," Meckler wrote on his blog. He also alluded to several upcoming initiatives and said none were offered by Jupiter's competitors.

While the Photos.com/StockXpert arrangement fits the description, the company's financials continue to disappoint investors. First-quarter 2008 revenues were down from both the previous quarter and the same period in 2007. Revenues from online image sales were also down, by 9%. However, subscription revenues remain a growth area.

Meckler said that the new Jupiterimages Unlimited offering grew by 100% within a year and StockXpert's subscription offering was also experiencing growth. The upcoming Photos.com/StockXpert program seems designed to play to the company's strength.



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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