The 5-year-old social networking site is adding advanced photo editing and sharing tools, along with a desktop-like drag-and-drop interface and a new design that makes it easier to share media and set privacy options. It's also adding ''Quick Note'' -- similar to Facebook's status updates or posts on Twitter.
Multiply isn't exactly going after the hardcore Facebook or Twitter crowd with this upgrade. Rather, it's targeting digital moms who use networks to share family photos -- people who want to be absolutely clear on who sees their media.
"We have very, very robust privacy options,'' said Peter Pezaris, chief executive of Multiply, which is based in Boca Raton. "We take a pro-media approach to give you all the tools to manage your full life cycle of your digital media.''
Multiply isn't as well-known as other networks, but it's certainly an active community. Multiply's 13 million members are posting about 3 million new photos a day, plus about 20,000 videos and 55,000 blog entries. According to Nielsen Online, data from March shows Multiply is the sixth-fastest-growing social network.
When you upload a photo to the new Multiply, you can crop, remove redeye and blemishes and e-mail the photo directly to anyone without having to download extra software. Sign up with a paid account for $20 a year, and Multiply will store all your photos and videos in their original size -- and you can download them back to your hard drive any time. Paid users can also print photos and album books. A user without a paid account can still download their photos in a medium resolution. Essentially, you can manage all your media through the website instead of on your hard drive.
A full social networking site with advanced photo editing and storage tools like Multiply has been a big fear among photo-only websites like Shutterfly and Snapfish, according to digital media expert Kathy Sharpe, chief executive of marketing agency Sharpe Partners.
Pezaris said that Multiply charges less than other sites for storage services.
But even with a cheaper price, the site's main challenge is ''to give everyone a reason to move their photos and move their lives to Multiply,'' Sharpe said. "They're right on targeting digital moms . . . but it's how you get them in there as fast as possible.''
Pezaris said his team wanted to avoid the complexities that Facebook's users face when sharing media -- something many Facebook users spoke out against in its redesign this year. 'Facebook just re-did their site. We all went 'Blah!' and then none of us jumped off,'' Sharpe said. "I'm still trying to write on someone's wall without it being on the newsfeed.''
There are three tabs in Multiply's redesign. The Inbox that lists updates from your connections -- and you can filter what is displayed by clicking on folders on the left-hand side. The Media Locker where you manage albums, videos, e-mails and use photos to create books, calendars, greeting cards or order prints (you can also import photos from other websites, including Shutterfly, Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket, Snapfish and Picasa). The third tab manages what your profile looks like.
Something that isn't new but is unique about Multiply is when you make connections, you have to define the connection. A Facebook or MySpace connection is always called a "friend" and a Twitter connection is a stranger who wants to follow your updates.
"It's really just a binary thing," Pezaris said. "Either I'm your contact or I'm not your contact."
On Multiply, there are family, friend, business connections, and online connections. When you share media or links, it'll ask you what category can see it. The online buddies category came along a little over a year ago.
"We try very hard to keep it an accurate description of how you interact with people through the real world," Pezaris said, adding that the site removes some social pressures to accept connections when you can see your friends-of-friends updates without being their connection. Because when you start adding everyone you've met -- in person or virtually -- as a close friend, "your contact list quickly becomes meaningless."
Not all members may see the updates Wednesday. Multiply announced the changes will slowly roll out over the next few days.
You can watch a video that shows you the changes to the media locker here: Multiply New Media Locker