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August 13, 2009

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klaus middendorf

quote: - i've heard it said that using price is the resort of the lazy marketer -

Well - the stock market is all based on rumors and fake... Marketing is about tricking and tempting people mostly...Nobody seems to care about it really.

If we take a closer look at what Mr. Grayson is offering, we will realize that it is just about that.

Buy into Alibre standard for $99 ...and you will find yourself NOT beeing eligable for the update to version 12 of alibre. You can however buy this option for $ 398...!..which itself still is only a limited offer.

After all its just a marketing thing trying to generate
some cash out of those people who previously used the free 'alibre express' as a convinient free of charge file-converting tool or viewer and nothing else.*
(They recently disabled the import/export features for STEP,IGES,SAT of the free versions of 'alibre express'
via online downgrade.)

If then however you are playing around with the idea to buy a license of alibre and take a close look at what 'club' you will join, you will stumble upon the new
features of |alibre professional/expert|...'push/pull'-technology OFCOURSE :) ..they call it 'direct editing'.

And the update(eligable)-price from 'alibre-standard' (we remember its (!) $398) to 'alibre-professional' is about $ 700...still quite reasonable compared to 'SpaceClaim'??? No its not! Its not comparable anyway.
But thats the intention behind it.

What are PTC, Dasault, siemens and autodesk planning
for their 'flagships'? They are all working on solutions that have 'direct modelling' on board or
are developing products like 'CoCreate' to get there.

They have to convince their present customers that
the 'old' solid-modelling with history-tree and 'direct modelling' is no contradiction and can be joined and work together in one piece of software.

The introduction of 'Alibre standard' for $ 99 is
coincidently taking place with the launch of a new
and very smart web-presence of alibre, which incidentally introduces 'direct modelling' (for 'alibre professional/expert' as if it has always been an inherent capability of 'Alibre'.

I think this offer is supposed to do a double-trick.
It generates money on a $ 99 base and it introduces
the new 'direct modelling' feature and more in a very smart manner. My respect Mr. Grayson :)
Start with a 'bomb' and harvest ALL* the attention
with a kind of 'understatement'-attitude.
*everybody in the CAD-industry will comment and react on this and guess who's advantage it will be.

quote: - That picture of grayson in the post tells it all, he's laughing at you. -
I would definitely smile as well, if I'd have had the idea of launching a 'smart-bomb' like that :)

Whatsoever - Alibre Standard for $ 99 still is a generous offer, even if you only consider it as a fee for using it as a converter and even if you won't be
eligable for any update.

tell_the_truth_or_shut_up

mr. grayson just doesn't seem to get that it's not about price. They might as well have offered it for $9.99 or 99 cents, it doesn't really matter.

does anyone really believe that if "hundreds of thousands" of people used their free product and could never be enticed to buy with the multitude of half off, 2 for 1, 3 for 2, free this, half that, 2 of those and a free bag of chips offers, that now they will jump in droves to buy?

give us all a break.

mr. grayson should start by respecting the market, telling the truth and focusing on building a better product, rather than wasting time on another scheme.

but no, he tells us how "lucky" he is that he invested so much in building out his backend order processing system to accommodate the massive volume.

as Lincoln once said, you can fool some of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time...I guess it is these two groups who will buy.

good for them.

unfortunately for alibre, that number is small.

and when you lose money on every sale you don't make it up in volume.

this company has been about selling something sub-par and then hoping people will put up with it until they decide to make it better. this is what micrografx was too. that may have worked in the early 80s although even then mgfx was mediocre at best.

alibre burned through a massive amount of cash trying to build something no one wanted and now are peddling what's left, barely subsisting, and crowing about how well they are doing. No one offers something that was selling for $1000 for a tenth of that, if they are doing well.

so back to reality...

for anyone to really use a cad system they have to commit their time and effort and believe that it will pay off. this is the cost we're talking about, not $99, not $999, and not $4,000.

this is why solidworks continues to lead at a dramatically higher price. is your next design project and your business worth $99 or worth a few thousand?

i've heard it said that using price is the resort of the lazy marketer. alibre has not been able to convince people that the product is worth risking their time on, but now that it's only $99 they will?

maybe they should have used the shamwow/slap chop guy to sell this on tv, and right after the gratey cheese grater, they could throw in alibre: zuchini, martini, bikini, alibre!

That picture of grayson in the post tells it all, he's laughing at you.

my advice is to get back to work and don't gawk at the train wreck.

klaus middendorf

I think this is also a trend that was introduced by google giving away their 'sketchup' for free. They created a huge hype on 3d-CAD. << Yes I definitely call this CAD. We can be sure that microsoft is going to follow this with 'truespace'* or whatever they will 'rename' it.* 'caligari-truespace' has lately been aquired by microsoft and is anticipated to be their 'contestant' for what sketchup is for 'Google Earth' at present. Now you think 'sketchup' and 'truespace' are not at all CAD-tools - don't you?.
Well - some weeks ago 'Autodesys', the makers of 'form-Z'
introduced 'bonzai3d' (www.bonzai3d.com), which can definitely be considered to be a successor to 'sketchup' because of its ability to handle nurbs and much more too. The tolerances of these products may not as yet be good enough for 'machining-parts' but they certainly already are for architectural work, interior design, woodworksand even plastic parts for rapid-prototyping machines and the like for the time beeing.
I'm sure that for example microsoft is cooking on something
quite similar. When you observe the evolution of products in this
field you will realize that (as mr. grayson too stated) products have become more and more elaborate and expensive with every single release. The goal of simplicity had to be sacrificed to the needs of marketing and the growing demands of the bigger companies, cause the latter use to buy into many seats/licenses. This turned ot to be a major obsticle when it comes to merchandising CAD-systems to midrange and small companies or one man shows. Only the big players can afford those systems with their additional yearly costs for subscriptions and maintenance and have their employees properly educated for every new release.
Now this market is mainly satisfied and decision-makers in big companies won't switch to another system, knowing that their present system will have the supposedly 'brandnew' features in a matter of month's too.
I completely agree with matt lombard (former comment) that independent contractors from both the design and the mechanical engineering fraction will be attracted by this offer. On the one hand these people can't afford to play around and put too much time into trial and error, however once convinced of a product these people are the ones who spread 'the word of mouth' which mr. grayson identifies as the main force when it comes to decision-making. You are converting these 'customers' into missionaries. So IMHO well done Mr. Grayson :)
I'm a one man show too and once I feel there's a new star rising, for me personally the main challenge is evaluation.
I guess every system has its strength and its allways good to have a bunch of systems available for compatibility testing on im-/exports when you are working as a contractor.
For this reason lots of us had the free of charge version 'Alibre Express' on their machines. You could use it as an imorter/exporter for ACIS/STEP and IGES files and even use the analysis/healing functinonality.
I'm very sure, that the vast majority of these 'Alibre express'-users will now think about buying in for this 'nice price'. I by the way wonder though, how you will calm down the ones who bought say three month ago and who now might feel the blues or worse :)

Anyway - I think its the best way of marketing to give entry-versions of even big systems away for free. Sometimes it takes much longer then the 30 or so days you are granted to evaluate such systems properly and that would definitely make a big change.
Your new customers will be very thankfull for this generosity, which after all creates a very
positive emotional attitude towards Alibre as a company.

matt lombard

Wow, this is interesting. Who would have thought to interview the source of the news rather than to just speculate?!?

I like some of what Mr. Grayson has to say and am skeptical about some of it. It's good to hear that there was a conversation with all the parties involved before they did this, and it's good to hear that they didn't do it out of desperation, maybe to be able to make payroll this month (but if that had been the cause, I don't expect they would own up to it publicly).

He says "it's about ubiquity". I think this reflects his own business, but he's trying to convince us that his competitors should also live by the same rule. I disagree that it "should" be about ubiquity for everyone. Ubiquity in the CAD market would mean that everybody has a mediocre tool that isn't very powerful. Not everybody needs a mediocre tool, but I agree that maybe most people do. Some users do need that exclusivity.

He makes a great point about all the bells and whistles. Are the bells and whistles really that valuable? Do they really even work as advertised? I believe there is an entire class of users out there who have paid $4k+ for software and pay $1300/yr to maintain it who actually need just what Paul is selling.

Alibre is today what SolidWorks was in 1995 - a stripped down, simple modeler that makes drawings with most of the functionality you need. The argument that simpler software is easier to use has been getting some play lately with various people talking about simple interface. But there is no way for something like SolidWorks to have a simple interface, it is a behemoth! In all of the feature competition between SW, SE and IV, each company has forgotten their roots, and simplicity was at the head of the list of features. Simplicity is how SW beat Pro/E.

The next point I don't really get is attracting 2D users. Are 2D users still 2D users because of price? AutoCAD still sells for $4k, and even LT sells for about the same price as Alibre (not sure on that one), so it doesn't seem to me that price is really the issue for 2D users. I would be very interested after this stunt is over to see who actually bought the $99 software. People attracted by price will be independent mechanical design contractors. $99 is something they can pull off today. $4000 isn't.

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