Alibre announced that it's MCAD software is now to be selling for $99 (see press release on TenLinks). It is a "limited time offer" but they are being cagey about the length of time. Alibre is claiming it is the full blown software, you will own it forever, no ads, no watermarks, no crippled features. This announcement sent shockwaves through the CAD industry media. It didn't take long for the blogs and tweets to light up. Here is a sampling:
- Alibre Design Standard for $99 - Deelip Menezes
- Alibre Slashes Price by 90% - Kenneth Wong
- $99 for Parametric 3D History Based CAD? Now That’s Negotiating! - Matt Lombard
- $99: Alibre Drives Down the Cost of MCAD (Temporarily) - Ralph Grabowski
It's an obvious move to gain market share. But will it? The simple answer in this economy is that price rules. But it's complicated. Initial cost is not the only expense. The bigger cost is investing time and effort in in learning, adapting, and incorporating software.
For years, I've wondered how AutoCAD could sell for $4,000 when all around it much cheaper alternatives have been available. Many of them free. Obviously, many other factors are in play.
Picture an engineering manager hearing about Alibre's $99 offer. Sure he could buy a license out of petty cash. But will he buy it for the whole department? Hmm... who else is using Alibre, he thinks, but can't think of anyone. What if I can't exchange files with my vendors? What if Alibre can't handle our designs? Does it crash? Will the other CAD managers laugh at me? Maybe I should just stay put... I've got a good job and nobody's going to fire me for using SolidWorks. Maybe I'll keep my head down and this will blow over.