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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 4:43 EDT

Getty Sees Cell Phones as Next Pictures Platform

April 6, 2006

SEATTLE — Photo and video service Getty Images Inc. said it sees sales of images for use in mobile devices as one of several small but fast-growing business segments that will help the company meet a 15 percent annual sales growth target.

Getty, the largest provider of stock photography and images, said it plans to push aggressively into the mobile segment through a series of partnerships with carriers and content providers for wireless devices.

Demand for professional photography has increasingly shifted from traditional outlets such as newspapers and magazines to the Internet in recent years. Wireless devices offer another platform for its news, sports and entertainment pictures, said Getty Images Chief Executive Jonathan Klein.

“It’s an absolutely natural progression and it makes sense, because it’s an easy thing for us to do and it’s not like we have to shoot completely different pictures,” Klein said in an interview with Reuters at Getty’s headquarters in Seattle.

“It’s the same pictures, but to a different platform.”

The company provides an application called PictureCast to cellular carrier Sprint, which offers the service to its customers who want to see the day’s news pictures. It also offers a video-based ringtone and a photo-based game for cellular phones.

“For us, this is icing on the cake. We don’t need the new new new thing and we don’t need something amazing in technology to happen for us to be successful,” said Klein, who also is one of the company’s co-founders.

Getty Images and Corbis Corp., also based in Seattle and owned by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, are the top two players in the creative photography market where advertisers, magazines and other enterprises buy, commission and search for pictures on the Web.

The company’s stock photography is still Getty’s main business, accounting for around 80 percent of its $734 million in 2005 revenue, but sales from Getty’s sports, entertainment and news pictures and stock video have grown rapidly.

International expansion in its stock photos business and growth in new business segments are crucial to meeting a near-term sales growth target of 15 percent stripping out revenue gains from acquisitions and currency fluctuations, Klein said.

Getty Images also sees paid search — a fast-growing form of advertising that uses the search terms of Web users to target relevant ads to consumers and sell them at a per-click rate — as ripe territory for its photos and video in the coming years.

“Whoever heard of advertising with just words anymore? It’s just ridiculous,” said Klein, noting that classified ads are the only example of text-only advertising.

Getty Images, whose share price rose 30 percent in 2005, has seen concerns about the sustainability of its growth rates pressure its stock price.

Trading at 29 times analysts’ estimated earnings for 2006, the stock closed up 13 cents to $74.78 on Tuesday and is down 16 percent in the year to date.