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Envato revisited: Bimber theme available again

Last month we wrote about an Envato announcement, explaining it had entered into an agreement with Shutterstock to be acquired for $245 million. As of this writing, the acquisition is still on the cards. From an investor perspective the acquisition is seen as a positive step, accelerating Shutterstock towards its 2027 long-term targets and adding 20% to its annual revenues.

Among the contributor/author community, those who create digital products to be sold on Envato and Shutterstock marketplaces, there’s concern. The concern is largely about what the acquisition will mean for payouts towards those who create digital assets such as stock photos, music and WordPress themes. Will payouts per download continue to fall as it has done over the years? Competition from generative AI tools and free stock photo and video websites has placed increasing pressure on Envato and Shutterstock to reduce prices and provide enticing offers to customers, arguably at the expense of the contributor/author community.

One example of the possible consequences of this pressure is the Bimber WordPress theme being sold on Themeforest, an Envato marketplace. Over the years, it appears this particularly premium WordPress theme has been abandoned by the developers. And in our previous article, we pointed out that the accumulation of bad reviews and critical comments likely had something to do with it being removed. For over a year, there had been criticism levelled towards the developer and Envato. Why is the developer still selling a theme that’s full of bugs and not up-to-date? And why is Envato allowing the theme to be sold on their platform despite the plethora of negative reviews and clear evidence of the theme not functioning as it should?

We pointed out that while the theme had been removed, the same scenario had occurred before. The developer introduced some cosmetic updates and Envato allowed the theme to be re-sold on Themeforest. We predicted that this might happen, and as it so happens, as of the publishing of this article, Bimber is back on Themeforest. Unsurprisingly, customers aren’t impressed.

Negative customer reviews on Themeforest for the Bimber WordPress theme.
Customers aren’t impressed with Bimber being let back onto Themeforest.

It’s notable that despite what appears to be a lack of bug fixes and no discernible update, sales have continued to rise. In our article posted on 8th May 2024, Bimber had made 18,325 sales. Today on 20th June 2024, there are 18,349 sales.

A screenshot of the Bimber Themeforest page with a red arrow pointing to the number of sales.
Bimber sales have increased despite widespread customer dissatisfaction.

On one hand, there’s something to be said for purchasing a $59 WordPress theme without doing due diligence. It’s very clear from the reviews and comments that there are many issues with its functionality. On the other hand, some purchasers (maybe all who’ve purchased between 8th May and today) may feel that despite the negative comments and reviews, Envato has a responsibility to only sell items that work. In fact, Envato has specific quality requirements for WordPress themes sold on Themeforest. So if Bimber is purchased on the assumption that it’s passed a quality check by Envato, then perhaps this is why sales continue to rise despite the abundance of customer complaints.

In this case, however, it appears that Envato’s quality review isn’t as thorough as it should be or the Bimber developer has found a loophole. About a year ago when Bimber re-appeared on Themeforest after having been temporarily removed, some people were optimistic, hoping there’d be regular updates from then on. This time round, with Bimber having been re-admitted onto the platform, people aren’t so enthusiastic.

But perhaps change is on the way. Will Shutterstock’s acquisition of Envato be accompanied by a more stringent review of items sold on Themeforest and other Envato marketplaces? If so, this will mean WordPress themes like Bimber won’t be available for sale unless the developer gets their act together. With better quality standards and by extension, higher quality digital products, there could be an increase in purchases; something that the contributor/author community would welcome. The ball is in Shutterstock’s court.

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