Scrapblog Sharpens Photo Editing Tools

Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service
PC World
Monday, March 31, 2008; 12:19 AM

Scrapblog, a Web 2.0 startup that aims to marry the worlds of scrapbooking and blogging, has enhanced its drag-and-drop tools for editing and cropping photos.

With the new features, Scrapblog now allows "freehand" cropping of photos, whereas before it provided only pre-set cropping shape options. In addition to the new scissor-like cropping ability, Scrapblog is also providing an "eraser."

Meanwhile, the company has also added a dozen one-click photo effects like antique and sepia, as well as the ability to adjust five elements like brightness and contrast, all things that previously required using a third-party editing program.

Scrapblog, privately-held and based in Coral Gables, Florida, launched its free Web-based scrapbook authoring service in April 2007, after developing it for two years.

Based on Adobe's Flex technology, the Scrapblog Builder is a rich Internet application (RIA) that requires no downloads and is aimed at letting people create online scrapbooks with photos, videos, audio and text, said CEO Carlos Garcia.

The company sees itself as a complement to photo and video-sharing sites like Photobucket, Flickr and YouTube, Garcia said. "People already have so much content uploaded to those sites. We started with the idea of letting people design online," he said. "We want to let them mix up their uploaded media creatively. That to us is the evolution of the first wave of user-generated content sites."

As such, Scrapblog's strategy is to provide easy links to video sharing sites and online photo album sites so that people can remix their content using Scrapblog's application. About 75 percent of Scrapblog's users bring photos that they have previously uploaded elsewhere.

To accentuate its non-compete strategy with video and photo upload sites, Scrapblog doesn't let its users share standalone pictures, only the scrapblogs they create. While it consumes content uploaded elsewhere, it also lets its users publish their scrapblogs to blogging, social networking and other sites, so Scrapblog also contributes content back, Garcia said.

Garcia cautions that the application is designed for regular users, not for graphic design professionals expecting to find Photoshop's entire feature set. Scrapblog's intention is to appeal to two main constituencies: people with a lot of uploaded photos and videos, as well as enthusiast scrapbookers eager to extend their hobby online.

Regarding the latter group, Garcia notes that there are about 30 million offline scrapbookers in the U.S. and that offline scrapbooking is a $3 billion a year industry.

By the end of 2007, about 1.2 million scrapblog pages had been created on the site. Most -- over 80 percent -- of scrapblog builders are women, many of them mothers of young children, Garcia said.

The company gives people the option of keeping their scrapblogs private or make them public for anyone to view. Creators of private scrapblogs can invite others to view them by extending a guest pass.

Although not yet profitable, the 15-person company is generating revenue, albeit not from traditional online ads, which Garcia believes would "pollute" the user experience. Instead, Scrapblog has gone the route of sponsored content, such asa campaignit did this past Christmas season with Disney's ABC Family TV channel, which was sponsored by car maker Dodge.

Scrapblog is backed by Longworth Ventures and Steamboat Ventures, which is affiliated with Disney.

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