SpaceClaim Changing Direction – Finally

If you look closely, you can sometimes get a sense of a company’s direction by reading their press releases, especially the last part where they speak about themselves – who they are and what they do. Incidently, that’s the part which gets ignored most of the time. Of late, my attention has been drawn to the “About SpaceClaim” section of the SpaceClaim press releases, where I have made some interesting observations.

Their November 15th press release, like the ones before, described SpaceClaim as “a breakthrough CAD-neutral modification solution that enhances engineers’ productivity by empowering them to contribute to, consume, and share mechanical designs in a 3D digital form.” This is in line with their original marketing strategy of portraying their software as a “modification” tool.

In their November 27th press release they replaced the word “modification” with “design”. And in yesterday’s press release they added the word “create”. So now it reads, “SpaceClaim provides a breakthrough 3D design solution that enhances engineers’ productivity by empowering them to create, contribute to, and share mechanical designs in a 3D digital form“.

In one of my first articles about them (“SpaceClaim – Real or Marketing Strategy?“), I wondered whether this “modification” yarn was more of a back-door entry strategy. Something which has worked wonders for McNeel. McNeel has used the “companion” word very well to convince people to use Rhinoceros along with their main CAD system. They could do that because they priced Rhino like a companion product. With SpaceClaim priced as much as SolidWorks (“Is SpaceClaim Overpriced?“), one cannot expect to get the same results.

SpaceClaim has been trying to woo the 4 million non-CAD users by offering them a full featured CAD system for a price of a full featured CAD system when they do not need a full featured CAD system. And then they start by not offerring a trial but rather by giving online demos to all 4 million of them. And finally they allow customers to only rent the software, not purchase it. I cannot think of anything more that could be done wrong.

We are now witnessing SpaceClaim trying to scramble out of the hole they got themselves into. They recently started offering a trial download. They are now allowing people to buy the software, not only rent it. And they have cut their prices in half in the name of a promotion. And most importantly, they are finally telling people that their software can also “create” designs, not only “modify” them.

In a conversation the other day, someone asked me, “You keep criticizing SpaceClaim’s business plan. What would you do if you were in their place?“. Well, if Mike Payne allowed me to use his office for a day I would fire the person who utterred the word “modification” in my presence. I would have Development come up with a stripped down version of the software and have Marketing sell it to the 4 million non-CAD users at under $1000. I would then get Marketing brainwashed and have them start maketing SpaceClaim Professional as the “First Open 3D Solid Modeling System” and price it in direct competition with SolidWorks, Solid Edge and Inventor. The fact that SpaceClaim does not bind it’s users with proprietary file formats is an excellent selling point and is something which has not been given enough attention. And finally I would get a Presidential Decree to ensure that my instructions are not revoked by Mike Payne the following morning and then leave the building.

After getting kicked out of Autodesk University, SpaceClaim should have learnt that they cannot play the “we love everyone and everyone loves us” game anymore. If they want to succeed, they should sharpen their swords, put on their armor and step into the arena. Stop playing politics while trying to sneek in from the back door. It doesn’t work that way.

There are many AutoCAD 2D users wanting to make the switch to 3D. SolidWorks is doing a good job in offering free seats of IntelliCAD along with their software to help these people across. Siemens is giving their Solid Edge 2D for free. That’s where the real money is and SpaceClaim does not appear to be interested in these people at all. They have been busy trying to sell sledgehammers to carpenters who just want to drive nails into wood, while telling construction workers that their sledgehammers are pretty good at driving nails into wood. Basically, they are selling the right product to the wrong people.

It’s good to know that SpaceClaim is changing direction. A direction that should take it’s product to the level of a mid-range CAD system, a place it rightfully deserves.

  • Anonymous

    Well, when Alibre was new (and all about “collaborative internet engineering” or something similar) one of their big points was an open file format – using STEP files for everything. It looks like they’ve got their own file format now…

    –Tony

  • Anonymous

    Well, when Alibre was new (and all about “collaborative internet engineering” or something similar) one of their big points was an open file format – using STEP files for everything. It looks like they’ve got their own file format now…–Tony

  • Anonymous

    please correct me if I am wrong, but spaceclaim is “open” i.e. can convert so many proprietary formats only because spaceclaim has paid fees and/or has agreements with solidworks, PTC, etc.

    If they start aggressively “competing” with such companies, they risk these relationships and thus no more “open”

    but I hope I am wrong on this?

  • Anonymous

    please correct me if I am wrong, but spaceclaim is “open” i.e. can convert so many proprietary formats only because spaceclaim has paid fees and/or has agreements with solidworks, PTC, etc. If they start aggressively “competing” with such companies, they risk these relationships and thus no more “open”but I hope I am wrong on this?

  • jon_banquer

    Beyond well stated, excellent job! The only thing missing is that SpaceClaim needs a CAM system to run inside of it that does things the SpaceClaim way. Machining job shops and manufacturers are starting to demand more and want integrated systems not two separate systems with all the hassles that go along with maintaining two separate systems. Porting existing popular CAM systems like Gibbscam, Mastercam, Surfcam, etc. to SpaceClaim will never work for several reasons. First, these systems fail at the basics of toolpath control and allowing the user to easily make changes to numerous machining parameters. Second, you can’t shoehorn a legacy code UI CAM program into a state of the art program like SpaceClaim.

    SpaceClaim badly needs to find a CAM vendor willing to create a CAM program for SpaceClaim from scratch.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

  • jon_banquer

    Beyond well stated, excellent job! The only thing missing is that SpaceClaim needs a CAM system to run inside of it that does things the SpaceClaim way. Machining job shops and manufacturers are starting to demand more and want integrated systems not two separate systems with all the hassles that go along with maintaining two separate systems. Porting existing popular CAM systems like Gibbscam, Mastercam, Surfcam, etc. to SpaceClaim will never work for several reasons. First, these systems fail at the basics of toolpath control and allowing the user to easily make changes to numerous machining parameters. Second, you can’t shoehorn a legacy code UI CAM program into a state of the art program like SpaceClaim.SpaceClaim badly needs to find a CAM vendor willing to create a CAM program for SpaceClaim from scratch. Jon BanquerSan Diego, CA

  • Deelip Menezes

    Anonymous, the word “Open” here refers to the fact that they do not have a proprietary file format which prevents their users from moving to another CAD system, as is allegedly done by many CAD vendors. The SCDOC format (SpaceClaim’s native file format) is actually a bunch of ACIS SAT fils zipped together along with other information and can be easily read by any CAD program.

  • Deelip Menezes

    Anonymous, the word “Open” here refers to the fact that they do not have a proprietary file format which prevents their users from moving to another CAD system, as is allegedly done by many CAD vendors. The SCDOC format (SpaceClaim’s native file format) is actually a bunch of ACIS SAT fils zipped together along with other information and can be easily read by any CAD program.

  • Anonymous

    Great analysis. It’s unfortunate you don’t right anything about SpaceClaim’s layoff. For starters COO is gone.

  • Anonymous

    Great analysis. It’s unfortunate you don’t right anything about SpaceClaim’s layoff. For starters COO is gone.

  • Deelip Menezes

    Anonymous, SpaceClaim’s COO, Mike McGuinness, is still very much with the company.

  • Deelip Menezes

    Anonymous, SpaceClaim’s COO, Mike McGuinness, is still very much with the company.

  • Deelip Menezes

    I stand corrected. Mike McGuinnes has left SpaceClaim. I am led to believe that he was not fired. But don’t count on it.

  • Deelip Menezes

    I stand corrected. Mike McGuinnes has left SpaceClaim. I am led to believe that he was not fired. But don’t count on it.

  • Anonymous

    SpaceClaim is clearly desperate…their model isn’t working so they make startling price drops and layoff exceutives and highly-paid programmers…so begins the VC-driven death spiral.

  • Anonymous

    SpaceClaim is clearly desperate…their model isn’t working so they make startling price drops and layoff exceutives and highly-paid programmers…so begins the VC-driven death spiral.

  • Anonymous

    Another shoe:
    Deelip kicked out a guy who said “modification” first. Payne is out. Is it too late for the company?

  • Anonymous

    Another shoe: Deelip kicked out a guy who said “modification” first. Payne is out. Is it too late for the company?