Alibre Design Standard for $99

Alibre has done the unthinkable. They have knocked off a 9 (doesn’t matter which one) from the $999 Alibre Design Standard and are offerring it for $99. CEO Paul Grayson explains why on his blog titled “Alibre Challenges CAD Industry to Beat $99 Price Offer“. He writes, “We have decided to launch a massive ‘market share grab’ directly targeting the largest CAD software companies in their weakest spot, new seat sales of multi-thousand dollar design tools. High-end design tools have been ridiculously expensive for some time, but in this environment companies and individuals have become much more frugal.

This limited time offer is not a marketing gimmick. Here are some points worth noting.

  1. The Alibre Design Standard license that you can get for $99 is a permanent license. This is not a student or a not-for-commercial use license.
  2. The software has not been stripped down to limit its ability to be put into production use. There are no limitations on the number of parts in an assembly, file size, etc.
  3. It comes with all the feature based parametric modeling and 2D drawing capabilities that exist in Alibre Design Professional and Expert. It even comes with motion simulation and automatic BOM creation. As far as modeling abilities go, the only things missing are direct editing (push/pull modeling) and sheet metal modeling.
  4. Unlike AutoCAD LT and other lite versions of CAD software, Alibre Design Standard can load add-ons. So you can extend its features to further customize it to your specific needs.

Some are calling this a fire sale. Maybe it is. Frankly, if you are getting all of the above for $99, who cares?

As Paul writes in his blog post, Alibre is not going after existing 3D CAD users with this $99 offer. I don’t believe Alibre thinks that existing SolidWorks, Solid Edge and Inventor users would switch to Alibre Design, and that too Standard, although some who are hurting real bad maybe tempted to try. Moreover, existing 3D CAD users wanting to buy more seats are probably not going to add a totally different CAD system and end up adding data exchange to their list of existing problems. They may simply prefer to wait it out till the economic situation improves. I believe this $99 offer is directed squarely at 2D CAD users. I guess Autodesk should be more worried than most others since this can affect their new sales of Inventor and existing subscriptions of AutoCAD. Come to think of it, developers of AutoCAD clones may have a reason to get worried as well ($99 is far lesser than even an AutoCAD clone). Especially since Alibre Design Standard can using existing DWG and DXF files as the basis for creating 3D parts.I believe that now is as good a time to consider whether Alibre Design Standard fits into your workflow.

Having said all of the above, it is also worth noting that this $99 offer poses a serious problem for CAD software resellers. Franco Follini of NOVEDGE, one of North America’s largest CAD software resellers, calls Alibre’s $99 offer a “bad idea”. He tweeted, “Alibre for $99 is sending a message that Alibre is desperate. Nobody is going to invest to sell a $99 CAD system.” I guess what Franco is saying for all their effort the margin for resellers would be next to nothing. I believe its resellers are the least of Alibre’s problems. They have other people to pay first. Companies like Spatial for licensing their ACIS modeling kernel, Siemens for licensing their D-CUBED constraint system and a few others. I don’t think Alibre is trying to make a lot of money here. At $99 a seat you just cannot. As Paul says, this is all about grabbing market share and then I guess they will decide how to milk it later.

Apart from this $99 offer being a bad idea for resellers, it is also not a very good idea for third party developers like SYCODE. Our Alibre Design add-ons are priced at $195. I have decided to lower them to $95 for the duration of Alibre’s $99 offer. If Alibre can knock off a 9 from $999, I guess I can knock off the 1 from $195. But no matter how much I try, I just cannot bring myself to knock off the 9.