The $99 Effect

I usually express my own opinion on this blog. This post is more about the opinions expressed by other people regarding Alibre’s $99 offer. No, I am not going to again discuss the negative commentary. I already did that. This post is about the positive comments that people left on the various blogs that covered the $99 offer, including mine.

I noticed that a majority of the people who commented favorably were individuals, free lance designers or people working in small companies. There were comments from people who were glad that they could now be able to have an MCAD seat for “personal work”. Some users commented about the lack of advanced features but admitted that they did not need them in their kind of work and hence were happy not to have to pay for them. I got the general impression that a majority of the people were not using or did not intend to use Alibre Design for what some call would “serious” work. Note that this is not my opinion, just what I made of the opinions expressed by others. I do consider this kind of work to be quite serious.

After reading these comments a few questions have cropped up in my mind regarding how the industry, especially users, would see Alibre in the light of their $99 offer.

[1] Will the industry see Alibre’s $99 offer as them giving up on the mid-range MCAD race? More importantly, will users feel that way? Are users bothered in the first place?

[2] Will Alibre Design be perceived to be comparable to a mid-range MCAD product fit to be deployed enterprise wide? Will Alibre’s marketing be able to ride against the popular notion that quality comes at a price?

[3] Is Alibre not bothered about the perceived loss of credibility in the mid-range MCAD space? After all, the label of “$99 CAD” is not something that is going to go away anytime soon. Even if it was only a temporary promotion. On the contrary, will Alibre be able to capitalize on the “$99 CAD” tag in some way.

[4] Is this $99 offer the beginning of a marked shift in the Alibre’s target audience? Say 2D users as opposed to current mid-range MCAD users.

[5] This offer comes at a time when V12 is due to be released, a version which is touted to have better support for large assemblies, optimized graphics, etc. Basically more like the current mid-range MCAD products. Could this be just bad timing on the part of Alibre? Or maybe Alibre timed it for V12 for some reason which eludes me.

[6] Alibre has constantly tried to narrow the gap between itself and the other mid-range MCAD vendors. Is this offer going to widen the gap instead in the minds of users? If yes, will this widening be good for Alibre or otherwise?

[7] Alibre hopes that mid-range MCAD users ask themselves the question, “Why are we paying so much?” (Matt Lombard has already asked that question). After finding the answer will these users end up doing something about it?

[8] There is no such thing as bad press. Or is there?

Something else bothers me. In this post CEO Paul Grayson flaunted the coverage that the $99 offer got from the media and bloggers. I counted more than 80 comments on all the blogs. However the three posts on Alibre’s blog that were related to the $99 offer had just 3 comments. Which means one of two things: (1) not many people visited the blog or bothered to comment on it in spite of all the traffic that we sent there; or (2) the comments are heavily moderated.

Either way, it is a bad sign.