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Getty Images readies business-use portal

Expected to launch early next year, will cater to creative professionals who buy photographs, artwork and designs, in an effort to distinguish itself from the competition.

Getty Images is creating a business-to-business portal for downloading digital photographs and images, in an effort to distinguish itself from the competition. will launch sometime early next year, catering to creative professionals who buy photographs, artwork and designs as part of their work. Customers will be able to choose from the 1.2 million images the Seattle company has digitized, according to Getty executives.

"This portal is going to offer everything that creative professionals could need to do their jobs," Jonathan Klein, Getty cofounder and chief executive, said in an interview.

The industry frontrunner's latest move seemingly solidifies the competitive differences between Getty and chief rival Corbis, owned by Microsoft's Bill Gates. With its stockpile of 60 million images and 27,000 hours of moving footage, Getty has focused on business-to-business markets, while Corbis is targeting consumers. The latter sells most of its 65 million images to the public as screen savers, posters and electronic greeting cards, though it also sells to news organizations.

Getty, cofounded by Mark Getty, an heir to the Getty oil fortune, has made several large acquisitions in the last year, such as its September purchase of Dallas-based Image Bank.

Digital images can be used in advertising campaigns, film and television production, and print. For years, photo and archive houses held claim to the relatively small market, but once the technology was created to send images over the Internet, the market began growing.

Besides buying photographs and digital images, Gettyone customers will find image-related products such as software, audio, typefaces and management tools from third-party companies.