iStockphoto and the wheel of retail

iStockphoto and ‘the wheel of retail’

‘The wheel of retail’ symbolizes a company that originally positions itself in the c-segment and increasingly shifts towards market leadership. iStockphoto is a good example of such a company because what started as a website for budget stock photography is one of the leading websites in the market in 2018. The supply, service package and prices of iStockphoto have gradually increased as more and more competition came from cheap providers, of which Fotolia is the best example. While Fotolia took the position that iStockphoto took five years ago, it is iStockphoto that is increasingly moving to the market leader Getty Images.

How iStockphoto moves towards market leadership

iStockphoto has long been able to maintain a strong price / quality ratio, but with the advent of more competition, the quality of the visual material was initially improved and additional services – such as video and audio – were introduced. Meanwhile, prices continued to rise. While you once bought a beautiful picture for a few Euro, you now have to pay a multiple for the same or a similar picture. Because iStockphoto offers a lot of exclusive equipment, it can follow this strategy, but there are more reasons for the price increase. For example, search functions, manual pre-selection, selection criteria and license conditions have been greatly improved. In this iStockphoto is significantly further developed than the many budget providers in the market. Anyone who buys photos from iStockphoto will feel and notice that the quality is higher. And that can be paid for.

Introduction to terms of use

iStockphoto, the multimedia agency based in Calgary, has retained its credit system for a long time, whereby a number of credits have to be exchanged for images in a desired resolution. There was no distinction and images could be used for anything. In recent years the business model has been extended with the category Vetta – a selection of photos in an exclusive segment – and a huge collection of historical images has recently become available. Starting this month, photographers who offer their images via iStockphoto can choose to impose extra conditions on the use of their material. For example, it can be indicated that photographs may only appear in editorial articles. This makes iStockphoto a huge jump on the ‘wheel of retail’ because the free character is considerably curtailed and the exclusivity increases.

Market dominance Getty Images

iStockphoto was acquired in 2006 by Getty Images, the market leader since the 1990s. Obviously, it is Getty Images who supports the strategic decisions for iStockphoto and continues to position the image bank with the utmost care according to the ‘pioneering spirit’ of Bruce Livingston, the founder of iStockphoto. Livingston agreed on the sale of his website that iStockphoto should always maintain its own character (and should therefore not look too much like Getty). Getty Images tries to serve the entire market of stock photography with its different brands and succeeds them very well. Even in the free segment Getty Images is active (with for example Stock.xchng) and with Jupiter Images, Thinkstock, iStockphoto and of course Getty Images, it serves all market segments.

The pioneering spirit of iStockphoto

The iStockphoto website is increasingly segmented as a (cheaper) variant of Getty Images. You can find an infinite number of photos, videos and audio clips that are not inferior to Getty Images in terms of quality. A big difference between the two websites is that iStockphoto does not focus on current photos while Getty is strong in this. iStockphoto will initially give its 85,000 photographers the freedom to give shape to rights and conditions themselves while Getty Images handles this much more strictly and therefore raises many barriers to make a purchase. Perhaps it is – indeed – the pioneering spirit that keeps iStockphoto so interesting for the middle segment. More information on


Digital economist and experienced user of stock photography for many purposes like blogs, advertising, websites and news media. Researcher of the market of stock photography. Loves to write about chances with visual content.

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