Monday, October 11, 2004

Could the iPhoto Picture Store be far off?

With rumors of a 60GB iPod with Photo features already in production for release before the holidays and an update to iPhoto to enable synching capabailities just like iTunes, I started thinking about the big picture on what Apple could do with iPhoto. iPhoto is currently all about storing and sharing pictures you take with friends and family. iTunes is all about storing and listening to music you have purchased. What if Apple created an iPhoto Picture Store? I am thinking of iTunes Music Store but with "digital prints" from professional artists. I am a huge fan of Digital Blasphemy. The site contains both free desktop wallpaper and also members content. Members is a subscription based thing, and I don't need Yet Another Subscription™. If I could buy individual pictures for decent prices, lets just say, $0.99, I would have bought a bunch of pictures already. Another example is the Roger Dean Store. I don't know if $9.95 is worth it for a pack of wallpaper, but I surely would have bought a few wallpapers already at $0.99. Just think of all the prints in college book stores, print shops, and framing shops that could be rebuilt for desktop wallpaper use. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. The iPhoto Picture Store could also provide print to canvas or poster services. Apple already has a photo book ordering service, they could put high-quality framing services available in the store. For the consumer, you buy rights to the print, and you can always get another size digital print. I think you probably need a different file format because artists will want DRM, though this is debatable because artists like the examples I mentioned already sell their work without DRMed files. Licensing art for sale through the iPhoto Picture Store must be easier for Apple than licensing music. As a regular end-user, I could also upload my own photos to sell. Think of iMixes, but I think Apple has to approve you picts for sale to avoid the pornography issue. Effectively Apple becomes your gallery, so maybe it's like the iTunes Affiliate program, not everyone can try and sell their own photos. You also can provide subscriptions, perhaps to unlimited numbers of photos, but also to individual artists. Two different price points would obviously make sense here. You could then set your screen saver to the iPhoto Picture Store subscription and get constantly updated pictures. Can Apple make money doing this? I think they can because the licensing fees have to be smaller than licensing music. Will this help sell PhotoPods? This is more difficult to say, but it takes buying art in all forms to an innovative new level that opens up to just about anyone. Storing and sharing digital art with the PhotoPod would be a breeze, so I think it increases the value of the device. If Apple does launch a PhotoPod, I think it pretty much means that iPhoto gets ported to Windows XP. That by itself is pretty intriguing because that's almost half the iLife suite. I wonder if this counts as Prior Art when contesting a patent.... :')