Thursday, December 10, 2009

HUGE updates in 2010 over at Istock

HUGE updates are coming your way for contributors and customers alike over at the iStockPhoto guys. You can expect to see several new features rolling out threw the first of next year. First up on Jan. 7th you will see the pricing credit system getting an overhaul (see below for new charts). A new subscription based site will be launched (like Jupiter Unlimited) later in 2010. Finally, they are changing the number of sales for their "canister" levels. Currently I am at the basic level, so this does not affect me no matter what, but if you are higher up they will grandfather your current position. Check out all the details below from kkthompson


2010 Priorities

We put a lot of time and effort into research in 2009 and we learned an amazing amount about our customers. And unanimously they said, “You have lots of pictures, now help me find the right ones quickly.” On other topics however, customers were divided. We have one group of higher-end picture buyers who tell us they only shop in the Vetta collection now — and price isn’t high on their list of concerns. The other group is more price-conscious than ever. In our plans for the next year, we’ve tried hard to make sure we address the concerns of these two groups, keeping them both happy.

We’ve also taken a look at the competitors, and we can say, now more than ever, iStock’s offering and price/quality ratio is untouched in the industry: we have the best images at the best prices for the broadest range of customers.

Beyond the amazing content, we’re also doing a better job of getting the right files in front of the right customers. We are leading the industry in search and search relevancy, and our R&D department has some great new features and products lined up for 2010. You've heard some of them mentioned in past announcements and they're on the way.

Getty Images will be launching a new subscription site (an updated Jupiter Images Unlimited) early in 2010 and iStock will be a significant part of it. We need your help to make it a success though: for those contributors who haven’t already opted into the partner program, please opt your files in now!

What's new in 2010:

Tiered collections
We plan to further diversify the mix of prices in our collection to help customers quickly find the files that work for their budget. Some files are going down in price, and some are going up.

Beginning on January 7, 2010, our library will be split into the following collections:

The main collection
In this collection, you’ll find the most affordable files from our non-Exclusive artists. We’ll retain the main collection at its current price point, except for the XL-XXXL files, which will be DECREASING in price. This is where we had the most feedback from customers: iStock’s largest files were too expensive. This main collection will continue to set the industry bar for value by providing some of the least expensive imagery in stock. These three million files will remain the highest-quality, and lowest-cost royalty-free digital content around, meeting the needs of our most cost-conscious customers.



iStock Exclusive
Files from iStock's Exclusive photographers and illustrators will now all have a higher price level. While other stock companies focus on quantity, iStock will continue to focus on what matters – quality and exceptionality. iStock's Exclusive collection is built on rich, unique imagery unlike anything else out there. We will be increasing the prices of our Exclusive files in order to further curate our collection and to reward and motivate our most loyal artists. We're also hoping to encourage the strongest talents in stock today to consider bringing their best work to iStock exclusively.

Images


Vectors

Note: All Exclusive elaborate files are currently in Vetta

Exclusive Plus
We know our exclusive artists have lots of great work that hasn’t quite made it into the Vetta collection. We’ll be giving those artists a chance to self-curate and select up to 20% of their collection to be included in an Exclusive Plus collection. This new collection won't be launching in January, but look for it later on in 2010. We're also hoping to have a more original name by the time we launch.

Exclusive Plus files will be priced somewhere between Exclusive and Vetta.

Vetta collection
We've been really happy so far with Vetta, our premium collection of unique, hand-picked files that meet our strict standards of exquisite art direction, intelligent concepts and rarity. We plan to keep growing Vetta and have it represent about 1% of the overall library. Vetta prices are staying the same in 2010.

2010 credit prices
There will be a very small adjustment to the price of a credit in 2010 starting January 7, 2010.


Future canister levels
It's important to us that our royalty model for contributors is sustainable. When we initially set up the canister system, no one knew what the future would look like in terms of the size of our contributor base, and how many images everyone would sell. The prospect of hitting 25,000 downloads seemed unbelievable, and when Duncan1890's Diamond list hit 20 names, it was remarkable.

Given our current rate of growth, the current canister levels aren't sustainable. In order to maintain the current system we will be increasing the canister levels. It's something we've avoided for a long time, but it's a step we have to take. For the first time ever we will raise the canister levels for photo, vector and flash contributors. Canister levels for video and audio contributors will remain unchanged. We are aiming to make the changes on February 24, 2010, and the new levels will be as follows:

Base: 1 - 499
Bronze: 500 - 4,999
Silver: 5,000 - 19,999
Gold: 20,000 - 49,999
Diamond: 50,000 - 399,999
Black Diamond: 400,000 +

Current contributors will be grandfathered in to their existing levels. So if you have 15,000 downloads when the change happens, you will remain at your gold canister for the purposes of upload limits and Exclusive royalties. No contributor will drop a level. We are aiming to make these changes on February 24, 2010.

Site updates (in the works)
It feels like forever since the last major site change, but we are constantly doing backend work to get the site to a state we felt comfortable with. It might not seem like much is going on, but every week (and sometimes twice) we push new code, often with dozens of fixes, and small new features. Now it’s time to start focusing on the window dressing. And the curtains are looking pretty spectacular. F5.

Happy New Year
I'm sure you'll have lots of questions and comments regarding all of this: it's a lot of news to take in. We're excited about the future and feel the outlook is good for everybody in the community, whether you're here to buy or sell. iStock will stay strong in the coming years, and 2010 is going to have plenty to keep us all busy and growing. Thanks again for your dedication, your loyalty, and your support. Happy New Year everybody.