Multiply is Now Free

Never mind that social networking sites generally suck and have layouts and profile pages that are even worse. Multiply, to my mind, fares better in terms of the usability aspect, and even in the general design. It even looks more Web 2.0-ish than the rest with the rounded corners, large input boxes and buttons and all (okay, I used “Web 2.0”–kick me!).

While I don’t use it much for my blogging activities (WordPress rules!), and I still prefer Flickr to store my photos, I still have a place for Multiply in my life, particularly for stalking checking on my friends and colleagues online, and storing my podcasts and some videos. What kept me from utilizing it more was the fact that I was limited in terms of customization, since only premium account holders had a choice of the extended set of themes and even their own custom themes (free accounts only had three).

Multiply has recently opened up its previously-for-premium-accounts full feature set to everyone. Free account-holders can now choose among the “professionally-designed” layouts–one of which a friend and former colleague of mine has designed actually–and can now upload an unlimited amount of photos, videos, and music to their accounts. Advanced users can now also use their own CSS-defined themes.

As for the premium/paid members, they’re not exactly on the losing end of this deal. They would no longer have to pay for their subscriptions henceforth, and Multiply promised they would never see ads on the site nor on their own multiply pages. They also get discounts on photo printouts (which, I think would be one of the main sources of income for Multiply).

I have some concerns about this new development, though, and that’s basically whether this is sustainable for Multiply. Unlimited multimedia uploads might take a hit on space and bandwidth, with the possibility of abuse. And I doubt clickthroughs from Google ads and printout orders would rake in enough revenue. True, Multiply has far surpassed the million-user mark, but it’s not as populous (and popular) as MySpace.

There must be something else. VC funding? Acquisition?

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