An earlier post titled “News from Alibre” I wrote:
One day, in the not-so-distant future, the CAD software industry is going to receive some earth shattering news from Alibre.
That day has finally come and the news is that starting February 1st Alibre has decided to permanently (I repeat, PERMANENTLY) drop the price of Alibre Design Standard to $97. Alibre has also permanently dropped the price on Alibre Design Professional to $497 and Alibre Design Expert to $997. No more offers. These are the new prices. Period.
Max Freeman of Alibre tells me “We had such wild success with the $99 promo that we have decided to make it permanent“. Some may say, “So what? Alibre Design Standard has been going around for that price for a while now.” Absolutely true. When Alibre first started its spate of insane price reduction offers, Alibre Design Standard was on sale for $99. Since then it was increased to $197 and now its going to sit at $97.
Granted, “earth shattering” may have not been the best way to put it. Although I must say that judging by the comments on that post (55 in all) it did generate a lot of curiosity. Earth shattering or not, I believe that this is quite a significant development because this marks the creation of a new market segment in the MCAD software industry, at least as far as price is concerned. Previously there was a high end range which included CATIA, NX and Pro/ENGINEER. Next we had the mid range which comprised of SolidWorks, Inventor, Solid Edge and the like. And last we had the low end range which had Alibre Design along with others that were similarly priced. Now with the Expert level of Alibre Design sitting squarely in the low end range, there is no other way to put this other than to say that Alibre has created a new segment in the MCAD space, which for the lack of a better term, can be termed as the ultra low end.
For a long time now some have been dismissing Alibre Design saying that it was “not worth it“. By that I have to assume that they were referring to its price ($999 for Alibre Design Standard) while comparing the added functionality available in the mid-range MCAD systems. I think those people may have to struggle to keep a straight face if they are to repeat that now. I mean, if people find Moment of Inspiration perfectly all right for $195, I cannot think of any reason why Alibre Design Standard cannot be worth $97. It uses the ACIS modeling kernel from Spatial, a 2D constraint system from Siemens PLM among other technologies. These are superior stuff, not some home grown half baked technologies. Surely all that technology neatly packaged into a history based parametric modeling system has to be worth at least $97. Damn, my simple data exchange add-ons for Alibre Design are priced at $95. And they used to be $195 earlier, before all these crazy pricing started.
Frankly, I do not see many people complaining about Alibre Design now. I mean, if you are paying $97 for a piece of software and then want it to do advanced surfacing as well, then there has to be something wrong with your line of thinking. For what it can do, Alibre Design Standard at $97 is most definitely worth it. I modeled a completely organic object (a rose) in Alibre Design (see this). So if you are expected to use Alibre Design to model prismatic mechanical parts and assemblies, and you are unable to do so, then maybe the problem lies somewhere else.
So how is this going to affect Alibre and other low and mid range MCAD vendors? I have absolutely no idea. But I think they already do. Alibre Design has been on sale for almost half a year now. So if these ridiculously low prices have managed to create a dent in the sales of new licenses of the mid-range MCAD systems then I suspect that their vendors already know that things are only going to get worse in the future.
On the other hand, if Alibre has been losing money since they started creating this new ultra low end range, then making these prices permanent implies that the management is driving the company into the ground, which sounds completely insane. Earlier on, Alibre CEO Paul Grayson, told me that he was “testing different price points“. Now with these prices made permanent, I have to assume that he is done testing and has concluded that these new prices are the ones that are going to take his company forward.
The only other alternative is that with these reduced prices, Alibre’s numbers and those of the other low and mid range vendors have remained more or less the same. If that were the case then it does not make much sense for Alibre to permanently fix these new prices. They should have been testing other price points. After all, they have been doing precisely that for almost half a year now and there is absolutely nothing stopping them from continuing to do so.
So as you can see, all this is very interesting. Also interesting is the fact that this announcement has come plumb in the middle of SolidWorks World. Which reminds me, in this comment, Kevin Quigley correctly guessed, “Whatever the news it will be perfectly timed to coincide with SolidWorks World.” Also in this comment H_L_Smith also almost correctly guessed that the news was “permanent lowering of product pricing to current promotion“. Almost because the new permanent prices are half that of the current promotion.