Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That's LIFE!

Just announced today, the news that Time Inc. and Getty Images will jointly launch in early 2009.

The official announcement is couched in the corporate “we-don’t-quite-know-what-we’re-doing-but-let’s-hope-it-drives-up-our-stock-price” language, but the vision seems to be of millions of web users happily playing the “popular” LIFE picture puzzle, purchasing albums of their favorite photographs, and decorating their homes with digital reprints of the atom bomb and Marilyn Monroe. (Do I see a bombshell theme here?) All this, I presume, to be surrounded by ads.

The problem is that Time Inc. is so hung up on the LIFE brand that over and over again they get caught looking back to the heyday of the brand (which was the 1930s and 1940s) instead of looking forward. (VH1 has the nostalgia thing figured out better with their "I Love the 80s" shows!)

Nevertheless, here’s the text of the official release:

New York, NY, September 23, 2008 – Time Inc. and Getty Images will jointly launch, the companies announced today at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX Conference in New York City. will be jointly owned and operated by Time Inc. and Getty Images, and will provide access to the most comprehensive iconic and professional photography collections available anywhere online. Andy Blau, president of LIFE and SVP of Time Inc. Interactive, and Catherine Gluckstein, vice president of iStockphoto and Consumer Markets at Getty Images, will serve as CEO and CFO, respectively.

“ brings together the two most-recognized brands in photography, making the defining images of our times even more accessible to people everywhere,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images. “We are thrilled to partner with Time Inc. on the launch of this exciting new venture.” will offer access to thousands of new photographs from Getty Images’ award-winning photographers, including today’s news, entertainment, sports, celebrities, travel, animals and many others.

Consumers will also have access to millions of images from LIFE magazine, many of which have never been seen by the public. The collection contains the historic photos that LIFE published through the decades, in addition to many never-before-seen pictures of Hollywood stars, sports heroes, important people and events from the ‘30’s though the ‘90’s. Getty Images will be providing the majority of images at launch from its comprehensive archival and current collections. More than 3,000 new images will be uploaded daily from Getty Images.

“Image search is the fastest-growing type of online search, and will satisfy the public’s desire for quality and relevant imagery through a visually pleasing and easy-to-browse website,” says Blau. “Only three percent of the LIFE archive has been seen by the public,” says editor Bill Shapiro. “This site will put everything on display. You’ll be able to look at the biggest events of yesterday and the stories making news today with just a couple of clicks.”

The new site, which was designed with Getty Images’ industry-leading search technology, will be easy-to-use and navigate. When the site launches in early 2009, consumers will be able to interact intimately with imagery, including printing select photos, sharing photos with friends and family, playing the popular LIFE Picture Puzzle, creating collections of photos around special interests and purchasing photo albums of user-made collections. Through the site, consumers can view the photos the world is talking about by searching for recently added photos or viewing photos by topic. Searching for and viewing images on the site will be absolutely free.

Given the literally hundreds of millions of dollars the two companies respectively lost on and the recent re-launch of LIFE, this can only be seen as the triumph of hope over experience.

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