Yesterday Getty Images received the "2005 Business Excellence Award for Innovation". Jonathan Klein, the co-founder and CEO of Getty Images said, "Throughout history, imagery has proven to be an astounding force for change".
Last year on December 08, 2004, Getty Images announced the "Five Top Imagery Trends For 2005" (More in "The Future Of Stock Photography And Imagery Trends For The Future") and stated:
We will also see a virtual re-invention of outdoor advertising, as companies push to leverage plasma and LCD screen technology. These screens will be enabled to receive rich visuals through digital signals, creating "mini Times Square-like" displays on bus shelters, in office and hotel lobbies, elevators, sports arenas, and on billboards and other traditional out-of-home venues.
Now, with its astounding force for change, Flickr is responding and apparently some might not have fully understand the consequences of what is happening.
Mediamatic, an Amsterdam based company, created Playing Flickr v2.0 ("Imaginative Keyword Conversations in Public Space"), a public space installation in the bar/restaurant/club 11 that "allows its visitors [via SMS] to select tags or keywords which will project associated Flickr images onto the club’s panoramic wall screens" (holly marie).
Note that the images showed during the installation are not necessarily the best images available at Flickr and in fact they are not. Flickr should set up a professional image management department and hire some picture editors, pick up the best images for possible selling and marketing through distribution channels, improve the keywording/tag system, solve the legal issues with licensing, rights clearance, model releases etc. with a workaround and figure out a way to pay the photographers. Flickr has perhaps a stronger daily input of noteworthy stock photos than the micropayment sites. Flickr has some jewels in its hands, and the only problem remaining is if and how are they able to select and market these jewels. All it needs is a "can-do" attitude.
I don´t know the details of the deal between Mediamatic and the owner of the club 11. But for shure he has been able to generate some bucks more than without the installation. If he can hire Mediamatic (this includes the Flickr users as the producers) and if Flickr is able to solve some remaining problems, then any businessman, company or ad agency can showcase noteworthy stock photos in "bus shelters, in office and hotel lobbies, elevators, sports arenas, and on billboards and other traditional out-of-home venues" and elsewhere.
The quality will certainly not/never have the peak quality of some of the Getty imagery and a difference will remain for ever. But this difference is getting smaller in the low-end part and I´m sure there is a bigger market for Mediamatic/Flickr. What has happened in Amsterdam sounds pretty much like: "Getty, we don´t need you. You have great artists for sure. You have great images for sure. No doubt and no disrespect. But for the moment WE TAKE OVER. We did the virtual re-invention of outdoor advertising as you were sleeping. These are our images and our lifes and some of our images are pretty great. This is what we want to see in our sports arenas and our offices."
Imagine the power of a temporary joint venture of Mediamatic/Flickr, some micropayment sites and some of the best photoblogs (photoblogs.org currently lists 11,851 photoblogs in 93 countries and 42 languages).
As a play of thoughts: it would take a new independent distribution company to negotiate with Flickr, micropayment sites and some photoblogs to become the “outlet factory” for the best images of these sources and to streamline the offerings. The problem for the moment is the keen competition beetwen the micropayment sites, but, if their best imagery would be united as one force (like a normal classical photo portal), they will gain more visibility as if they were acting alone. This new company would represent in a nutshell the best imagery from these three sources and market them as a single pool, unifying their imagery as one force (and still the micropayment site can pursue their own business, for them it´s just another way to generate revenues). As a search engine (not as a independent distribution company), Yotophoto -- like Pixsy -- is a early and first step in this direction (see "Interview With Mark Thomson/Yotophoto"). - It´s juicy to notice how VCs with experience in the picture business are interested in these ideas, starting to fund both sides of the table. So, towards the notorious objection raisers at the PDN online forums ("What is flickr"), this is not satire.
Imagine this pool (neither Flickr, a micropayment site nor an aggregation of photoblogs can do this alone) would have access to Adobe Bridge. Imagine a pool image subscription model (no one would care anymore about low-end subscription services from other companies because of the jewels of Flickr, micropayment sites and photoblogs). Imagine some kind of a unified PLUS licensing system for those pool images (the problem for the moment are the specific conditions at each micropayment site). Imagine these source would have access to the GalleryPlayer. Imagine if these pool images would be searchable via Visual Search, then the task of keywording (Flickr´s problem for the moment) would be less important. Besides this, imagine if Flickr would create an own micropayment site with constant influx of imagery. A reader wrote, "just think if they create a contest for specific subjects in the low-end part, then you´ll have a correspondent OnRequest Images business model" (ok, this latter is now really weird!).
- An Interview with Flickr's Eric Costello: "We’re working on new features to increase the relevancy of tag search results. It’s quite exciting because there are a lot of fantastic photos on Flickr that people don’t always find. I think it’s going to change the nature of Flickr a little bit. It’s pretty cool."
- Flickr: How To Displace Getty Images and Corbis