So my prediction came true. The iPad has created a new market for photographers. What impact this will have on the future of photography is obviously yet unknown. But there is a new market none-the-less. You’ll either benefit from it or you won’t. If you simply ignore it and hope it goes away, well we know how that will turn out. In the mean time, those of us who are interested in moving into new markets will be cashing our checks.
I’ve launched my first iPad app. It’s called Avian Wallpaper. It contains a license to use any of 15 low-res (1024×1024) versions of 15 of my bird photos as your iPad wallpaper.
I am charging $.99 for the license. As expected, I’ve been attacked for not giving the pictures away for free. I’ve also been attacked for charging too little. (Welcome to my world :))
I expect to be attacked no matter what I do and accordingly, I pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. That’s the nature of the Internet. But those attacks not withstanding, we’re in new territory here folks. And just as iStock changed the stock photography paradigm, the iPad may change the online photography paradigm. You or I may or may not like the change – but change comes regardless of our feelings or opinions. If you’re a pro, it’s just plain stupid to ignore it.
At this point, it’s all a great experiment. What is the best way to market iPad photo apps? What is the perfect price? Nobody knows yet, and anyone who claims they do is full of the stuff that comes out the rear end of a bull. It’s simply too soon to know much of anything. We’re talking about selling photos into a marketplace that simply didn’t exist a few weeks ago.
We do have some data. All the research I can find shows that the lower priced apps do better than the expensive ones. That’s no great shock. But at least it’s something.
It should be an exciting time for photographers. It is in fact, something to celebrate in my opinion. But there are those who are bitter about the iPad, or other things in life, and they would have you believe this new iPad market is a bad thing.
Some have proven their lack of knowledge in this area by trying to compare selling a license to use 15 low-res images on an iPad as wallpaper to pricing wedding photography. This goes beyond ludicrous. When pricing wedding photography, you’re spending hours with a family capturing their most important memories, editing, retouching and delivering hundreds or even thousands of photos for a couple to cherish their entire lives. You’re typically delivering physical prints, albums, books, canvases, or other tangible products from a one-time event. The import of a wedding, the deliverables and the market conditions surrounding that experience can’t be compared (by any sane, reasonable person) with licensing 15 images for use as wallpaper on an iPad. The market for the wedding is one family and their friends. The market for an iPad application could reach into the hundreds of thousands quickly. Wedding photography and images sold on an iPad as wallpaper are as different as professional football and Scrabble. And herein lies the rub. False equivalence is the tool of the weak, the worried, the ill-informed and the trouble maker. Don’t let these negative people confuse the issue. Chances are excellent that they have a hidden agenda.
Instead, explore this market with hope, excitement, new ideas and new approaches. I am pretty sure that someone way smarter than me will figure out an advanced business model for the sale of photos on the iPad. And this is going to happen whether or not any particular group likes it. Personally, I can’t wait!
The world is changing. Newspaper and magazine markets are shrinking. The cost of printing and shipping paper is going up. The advertising markets are increasingly interested in more electronic distribution. Younger people are more likely to “watch” a screen than they are pick up a piece of paper.
The iPad, with the proven marketing muscle of Apple’s expertise in selling online applications, represents a huge opportunity. In one of the worst economic situations I’ve ever seen, we have a new marketplace. I’m not sure how that can be a bad thing.
The launch of a new market for photography is cause for celebration. Whether or not we get it right on the first try is much less important than making the effort. Time will sort out the details.