I was invited to see the next version of Solid Edge but I'm sworn to secrecy until the release is made public. Suffice it to say that the next release is very impressive. But then, Solid Edge has always been impressive. Joining me in this belief are most of the editors, authors and analysts I talk to. On technical merits, Solid Edge holds its own and even surpasses market leading Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks in some aspects. So why isn't Solid Edge on the short list when a MCAD buying decision is made?
UGS knows the answer. At last fall's Solid Edge user meeting, UGS CEO Tony Affuso announced that he was tired of Solid Edge not being noticed and UGS was going to turn up the volume (see Solid Edge Seeks the Spotlight). They were going to increase advertising, for one thing. Also, they pointed to the large number of press invited, indicating how that, too, would help spread the word.
Let's take a look at what has happened since:
- Instead of increasing advertising, UGS has cut back. Online advertising has been cut back severely. They used to be one of TenLinks biggest advertisers, but that has all but disappeared.
- Very few members of the press -- if any -- were invited to the next Solid Edge users meeting, held in April in Long Beach, CA, where I'd expect the next edition of Solid Edge to be announced.
While this makes CAD insiders scratch their heads, it's bound to makes the product people at UGS' Solid Edge division downright frustrated. No doubt they feel they have done their job and made the better mouse trap. Why doesn't the rest of the company (management, marketing) do their job-- or at least keep their promises?
Some possible answers:
- UGS also offers a high-end product with Unigraphics. Is the company afraid that the growing capability of Solid Edge jeopardizes its high-end products?
- UGS may be scrimping to improve its bottom line. UGS was bought by investors from EDS. It has been trying to buy itself back from its investors with big payments that have left the company in the red. Rumor have swirled for some time that UGS plans to do an IPO (see UGS Steps Forward, for example) and may be cutting costs severely so that it looks like a good investment. Unfortunately, in this situation, the marketing budget may have been the first to go.