May 18, 2008 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Tips for getting ahead in the increasingly competitive low cost small laptop market: When you go to Getty Images, grab some stock photography of smiling kids in a classroom and photoshop in your product, you better make sure your competitor hasn't used the exact same image.
posted by Artw (49 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The Engadget link says that both companies "swiped a stock photo," but isn't that the point of stock photos? You pay for the right to use them in your ads or publications?
posted by Nedroid at 9:47 AM on May 18, 2008

Yeah, the real crime here is the quality of the photoshop jobs in both pictures.
posted by ckolderup at 9:51 AM on May 18, 2008 [6 favorites]

Didn't this also happen with that mac stoner girl Ellen Feiss? She showed up across a whole bunch of ad campaigns, if I could only find the link...
posted by pedmands at 9:59 AM on May 18, 2008

The real crime is Engadget calling the computer in the original a MacBook, when any fule kno that's an iBook.
posted by cillit bang at 10:02 AM on May 18, 2008 [4 favorites]

This really shouldn't be surprising - they're using Royalty Free images. If a company wants or expects image exclusivity, they'll need to use Rights Manages images or hire a photographer to shoot original material for them.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:03 AM on May 18, 2008

that is some funny shit. ASUS' photoshopping really is godawful. The color tint, everything. Am I am very much not a knit-picker on such things. My bar's low, and they still failed to clear it.
did they do it using the product itself or something?

the best to me is that there's no need for a computer to be in the stock photo at all, just a happy kid at a desk in a schoolroom environment.
posted by Busithoth at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2008

That' grinning urchin's got 2 more laptops than I have. Needy kids my ass.
posted by roue at 10:09 AM on May 18, 2008 [4 favorites]

they both swiped a stock photo featuring our friend Orange here with a good ol' MacBook.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by dersins at 10:18 AM on May 18, 2008

I know that marketing budgets get cut at inopportune times, but even a start-up with little capital should be able to afford a) one of the computers they manufacture, b) a decent photographer, and c) a single day's shoot. Folks, don't let your marketing people play art director.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:21 AM on May 18, 2008 [8 favorites]

Yeah, ASUS whored up the kid in their shot, very creepy. Perhaps they were just going for the rosy bloom of youth, but they ended up with fushia lipstick and Wild West prostitute rouge.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 10:28 AM on May 18, 2008 [4 favorites]

Yeah, ASUS whored up the kid in their shot, very creepy. Perhaps they were just going for the rosy bloom of youth, but they ended up with fushia lipstick and Wild West prostitute rouge.

Whoa, it's an Olympic-level leap from the actual photo to the conclusion you have drawn.

Being a cable-news political spinner would be a perfect job for you.
posted by jayder at 10:54 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's cute when you see it happen, but this is stock photography. Niether MSI nor ASUS has, as the last link suggests, any "explaining" to do, except insofar as they might both need to explain to someone who doesn't understand what stock photography is what, exactly, stock photography is.

The same woman-and-small-beagle that enjoys (in some abstract way) life insurance also enjoys allergy-control pharmaceuticals. Neither of those companies has any explaining to do either.

And honestly, the coloring in the ASUS shot just look color-shifted off toward the blue side of things. Check the desk, the wall, the color of Orange Hat's shirt. Not photoshopping in any meaningful sense (laptop-insertion aside), but just a general palette/temperature discrepancy. Bad color control. And depending on the source of those images, this might not even have a damned thing to do with ASUS.
posted by cortex at 10:58 AM on May 18, 2008 [6 favorites]

He looks like the little brother of Everywhere Girl or at least got his hat from the same place. It has to say something about statistical randomness vs. common aesthetic values. Or Art Directors' taste in hats.
posted by wendell at 11:02 AM on May 18, 2008

Nice hat.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:32 AM on May 18, 2008

Marketing people have a subconscious liking for people who use their head as holders for items that can be sold.
posted by Free word order! at 11:32 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

To those saying they didn't swipe it: no, I think they did. Check the cropping. The area with the watermark has been cropped out. I don't have a gettyimages login so I can't tell for sure whether they would have had to pay to use that image in any case, but I'm betting that they don't have a gettyimages login either, and just took it off that front page.
posted by agentofselection at 11:43 AM on May 18, 2008

Actually, following the image link I see that ASUS cropped out the watermark, while MSI appears to have removed it mostly by cranking up the brightness on the left window.
posted by agentofselection at 11:48 AM on May 18, 2008

Agentofselection: I don't know that simply cropping an image is a strong arguement for image theft, but if there's decent evidence that the image is stolen I'd be happy to report it.
I'm a Getty photographer and I'd hope others would look out of misuse of my images too.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:50 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

What does an image like this usually cost to license? Or do these companies usually get some kind of annual batch deal?
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:54 AM on May 18, 2008

Ok, Asus may have just been cropping for cropping's sake, because they tightened it up all around. But if you click through to the german blog, I still think it looks like MSI photoshopped out the watermark rather than getting the official version.
posted by agentofselection at 11:57 AM on May 18, 2008

On an unrelated note, the swashbot linked further down the engadget page has absolutely made my day.
posted by churl at 11:58 AM on May 18, 2008

damn dirty ape:

Pricing for this image:
500 KB - 358 x 477 px - RGB $ 49.00 USD
1.00 MB - 512 x 683 px - RGB $ 144.99 USD
10.0 MB - 1619 x 2159 px - RGB $ 349.99 USD
28.5 MB - 2733 x 3644 px - RGB $ 459.99 USD
51.9 MB - 3690 x 4920 px - RGB $ 499.99 USD

But yes, there are also volume discounts too.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:59 AM on May 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

In any case, the way MSI put the boy from the midground's head on the girl in the background is criminal.
posted by agentofselection at 12:03 PM on May 18, 2008

No argument there, agentofselection. Hoof. And I mentioned the color of the table in my color-shirt argument, but it seems like as anything they sort of shopped the table surface into fit the tighter crop regardless, so that could be coincidence.
posted by cortex at 12:13 PM on May 18, 2008

jayder: Not the kid up front, but the kid just behind. Seriously whored to jesus... uh, sodom.
posted by davemee at 12:34 PM on May 18, 2008

I was given the "chlamydia" warning against using stock photography in ads. As in, that picture of the excited-looking woman you used in your ad may next be featured in an STD awareness campaign. Where her expression will not signify "I am so thrilled to be attending the 2008 National Buttonmakers Conference" but "Oh no, I have chlamydia!"
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 12:46 PM on May 18, 2008 [7 favorites]

And in other wacky photoshop disaster news, Heads turn up on different bodies in high school yearbooks in texas...
posted by blaneyphoto at 12:49 PM on May 18, 2008

So, anyone here have an Eee, and wat do you think of it?
posted by orthogonality at 12:53 PM on May 18, 2008

orthogonality: they're amazing little machines. My computer hating younger brother wants one (first time he's ever expressed an interest in a computer). My wife wishes I'd put it down.
posted by davemee at 12:58 PM on May 18, 2008

What's most amazing is how ineffective the ads look: No way I'm buying a laptop used by stupid beanie boy and the asymmetric head twins.

Aside from engadget, do we have a sighting of these pictures in the wild?
posted by ghost of a past number at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2008

So, anyone here have an Eee, and wat do you think of it?

I've used an Eee, and I have to say I'm highly impressed with it. It's really tiny.

At the price they're asking, I was expecting it to feel like a piece of junk in my hands. It doesn't. It feels as strong and well desigined as a Thinkpad, and feels better than any HP, Dell or Toshiba I've ever worked on. Except it can damn near fit in a pocket like a paperback book.

I've seen a few YouTube videos of torture tests of an Eee where the guy is like chucking it to the concrete ground from heights over his head and dropping it everywhere and it seems like it takes a lot more to kill these things than a regular laptop.

I would love to see them make a weatherized/ruggedized version. It's damn near already as tough as a Panasonic Toughbook as it is. All you'd really have to do is put a weatherproof keyboard in it and add some rubber bits here and there.
posted by loquacious at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2008

blaneyphoto, I've gotten that weird "Make everyone's head the same size!" request before, which is a lot harder than it sounds - I never know whether to make them the same height, same width, same ... area? But I haven't yet stuck anyone's head on a naked body.

Marketing people ... put that Photoshop CD down. It's too much power for you!
posted by adipocere at 2:51 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

So, anyone here have an Eee, and wat do you think of it?

I have one. I absolutely love it and use it for everything, including some design stuff with Inkscape/GIMP, to the guy who said "did they use the product to create the photo?". One of my favorite things about it is the modification culture: ASUS used non-standard MiniPCIe connectors with USB D+/D- signals brought out to them, so as long as you're comfortable with soldering to small-pitch SMD pins, any USB device that will fit can be added internally, such as touchscreens, bluetooth, GPS, extra storage, etc. I've added an internal 4-port USB hub with Bluetooth and 32GB additional storage, for a total of 44GB (4GB standard, 8GB SDHC card, 32GB internal dismantled USB sticks). I've also installed 1GB RAM and used some BIOS upgrading trickery to restore it to its rightful clock speed of 900Mhz. It runs Ubuntu Hardy with full GNOME/Compiz Fusion just fine.

it seems like it takes a lot more to kill these things than a regular laptop.

Mostly because there's no moving parts except the fan, and everything but the WiFi card and LCD screen is directly part of the single monolithic motherboard.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:18 PM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

So, anyone here have an Eee, and wat do you think of it?

I never usually anthropomorphise inanimate objects, but it's freaking adorable.

And very useful.

Srsly. I'm doing some travelling later this year and got hold of it so I could keep a decent record (I'm a terrible written-note-taker), and it's a great little piece of kit. The screen quality is amazing, the keyboard sturdier than the one on my full-size Acer, and it's just so kyoot...
posted by aihal at 3:25 PM on May 18, 2008

Could you make the logo bigger? Thanks.
posted by erniepan at 4:09 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

well, if these images are swiped we've got ourselves a story about theft from a stock photo place. that's not really stuff for the blue. if they both bought the same stock photo and did a crap photoshop job on them we have another case of a story not really meaty enough for the blue. so I suppose the answer is to take all the links from the single source OP used, drag it all out into single links and hope it looks like a post fit for the blue.

which it isn't, artw. you should know better.
posted by krautland at 4:28 PM on May 18, 2008

I'd be quite keen to hear more info on how you did your mods, Decemberboy. Or perhaps a link or two to any how-tos?
posted by chimaera at 5:11 PM on May 18, 2008

Where her expression will not signify "I am so thrilled to be attending the 2008 National Buttonmakers Conference" but "Oh no, I have chlamydia!"

The problem here may be with using a picture where the person expressing enthusiasm for the product could also be interpreted at being thrilled at having just contracted an STD. That sounds like some weird stock photography.

But in reality, it's just sad how often those two things coincide. The Buttonmakers' Conference has really been going downhill in recent years.
posted by spiderwire at 5:42 PM on May 18, 2008

chimaera: Check out, particularly the Hacks and Modifications sub-board in the forums. This post will tell you how to open the eee and get at the power, ground and USB D+/D+ signals. The most common thing to do is to obtain a USB hub (a specific model, known as the "swivel" hub and sold in the US at Target stores as the "Ohm 4 port USB hub", is the best and most popular to use), and solder the port that connects to the computer to the eee's power/ground and MiniPCIe USB points, then solder your USB hardware to the 4 ports on the hub. A perusal of the stickied posts in the Hacks and Modifications board will tell you pretty much everything you need to know, and there's some more information and examples of mods in the wiki.

This isn't for the faint of heart, however - unless you have a very small low-watt temperature-controlled soldering iron and have experience with small-pitch SMD soldering, I wouldn't even attempt it. It's not that hard, but if you've never soldered tiny SMD pads before then you're more likely to fail or even break your eee than anything. It also requires voiding your warranty, but then most hardware mods worth doing do.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:46 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Reminds me of the month a few years ago when I noticed the same spiky-haired kid showing up in ads in several of my tech magazines at once. (May even have been the same photo, I don't remember.) I figure it's just the marketing zeitgeist— the marketers selling tiny laptops are selling to the same crowd, they're reading the same trade magazines, they're looking at the same stock photography archives, it's no surprise they'll pick the same photos fairly often.
posted by hattifattener at 7:21 PM on May 18, 2008

The adventures of blue hat girl.
posted by Artw at 8:34 PM on May 18, 2008

I totally want an EEE, by the way, but for whatever reason ended up wauting for the 9" version, then seeing the WTF price and balking at it, so now I'm torn between the 7" and waiting for something else.
posted by Artw at 8:37 PM on May 18, 2008

In my experience, every gal who sees the EEE says, "Oh, it's so cute!" I bet the guys are thinking it, too.

My sister and her husband have two Dell laptops running Windows in their house. Both machines are astonishingly screwed up -- when it came time to buy photo prints from the Flickr website, neither laptop could make it through the ordering process. (Overzealous anti-viral or pop-up blocker? Don't know, don't care. I'm a software developer but I don't have the patience to fix other people's screwed up Windows machines.)

So I gave her my 9" EEE running the stock Linux OS and web browser. Works great. She hasn't had any problems at all.

Thanks for the Hacks and Mods link, DecemberBoy. You're hardcore.
posted by sdodd at 11:46 PM on May 18, 2008

Oops, I meant to say that it's the smaller 7" EEE, sorry.
posted by sdodd at 11:47 PM on May 18, 2008

Size matters.
posted by Artw at 11:54 PM on May 18, 2008

In my experience, every gal who sees the EEE says, "Oh, it's so cute!" I bet the guys are thinking it, too.

Mine is the subject of frequent good-natured jokes. One of my employees once described it as an "overgrown cell phone". Now that I've been using it so frequently since getting it a month or so after they came out, all other laptops look like comically huge oversized novelty laptops. It's really the perfect size for my idea of a "portable computer".
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:43 AM on May 19, 2008

Mainly I want it because I'm pining for the Psion 5.
posted by Artw at 8:58 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

How timely. I was just looking at an EEE yesterday and thinking how fun it would be to pick one up.

Of course, I'd offer Asus the chance to use me as the model in their next photo, just for the chance at getting a free one, but I don't think they are going for the burned out, insomniac, tech guy, in ill fitting clothes and sporting an impressive bed head hairstyle. It's just not a sexy enough demographic for most companies.
posted by quin at 10:11 AM on May 19, 2008

I'm typing this on an eee PC right now, and it's awesome.
posted by Nattie at 11:44 PM on May 19, 2008

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