Alibre Design Standard for $97

An earlier post titled “News from Alibre” I wrote:

One day, in the not-so-distant future, the CAD software industry is going to receive some earth shattering news from Alibre.

That day has finally come and the news is that starting February 1st Alibre has decided to permanently (I repeat, PERMANENTLY) drop the price of Alibre Design Standard to $97. Alibre has also permanently dropped the price on Alibre Design Professional to $497 and Alibre Design Expert to $997. No more offers. These are the new prices. Period.

Max Freeman of Alibre tells me “We had such wild success with the $99 promo that we have decided to make it permanent“. Some may say, “So what? Alibre Design Standard has been going around for that price for a while now.” Absolutely true. When Alibre first started its spate of insane price reduction offers, Alibre Design Standard was on sale for $99. Since then it was increased to $197 and now its going to sit at $97.

Granted, “earth shattering” may have not been the best way to put it. Although I must say that judging by the comments on that post (55 in all) it did generate a lot of curiosity. Earth shattering or not, I believe that this is quite a significant development because this marks the creation of a new market segment in the MCAD software industry, at least as far as price is concerned. Previously there was a high end range which included CATIA, NX and Pro/ENGINEER. Next we had the mid range which comprised of SolidWorks, Inventor, Solid Edge and the like. And last we had the low end range which had Alibre Design along with others that were similarly priced. Now with the Expert level of Alibre Design sitting squarely in the low end range, there is no other way to put this other than to say that Alibre has created a new segment in the MCAD space, which for the lack of a better term, can be termed as the ultra low end.

For a long time now some have been dismissing Alibre Design saying that it was “not worth it“. By that I have to assume that they were referring to its price ($999 for Alibre Design Standard) while comparing the added functionality available in the mid-range MCAD systems. I think those people may have to struggle to keep a straight face if they are to repeat that now. I mean, if people find Moment of Inspiration perfectly all right for $195, I cannot think of any reason why Alibre Design Standard cannot be worth $97. It uses the ACIS modeling kernel from Spatial, a 2D constraint system from Siemens PLM among other technologies. These are superior stuff, not some home grown half baked technologies. Surely all that technology neatly packaged into a history based parametric modeling system has to be worth at least $97. Damn, my simple data exchange add-ons for Alibre Design are priced at $95. And they used to be $195 earlier, before all these crazy pricing started.

Frankly, I do not see many people complaining about Alibre Design now. I mean, if you are paying $97 for a piece of software and then want it to do advanced surfacing as well, then there has to be something wrong with your line of thinking. For what it can do, Alibre Design Standard at $97 is most definitely worth it. I modeled a completely organic object (a rose) in Alibre Design (see this). So if you are expected to use Alibre Design to model prismatic mechanical parts and assemblies, and you are unable to do so, then maybe the problem lies somewhere else.

So how is this going to affect Alibre and other low and mid range MCAD vendors? I have absolutely no idea. But I think they already do. Alibre Design has been on sale for almost half a year now. So if these ridiculously low prices have managed to create a dent in the sales of new licenses of the mid-range MCAD systems then I suspect that their vendors already know that things are only going to get worse in the future.

On the other hand, if Alibre has been losing money since they started creating this new ultra low end range, then making these prices permanent implies that the management is driving the company into the ground, which sounds completely insane. Earlier on, Alibre CEO Paul Grayson, told me that he was “testing different price points“. Now with these prices made permanent, I have to assume that he is done testing and has concluded that these new prices are the ones that are going to take his company forward.

The only other alternative is that with these reduced prices, Alibre’s numbers and those of the other low and mid range vendors have remained more or less the same. If that were the case then it does not make much sense for Alibre to permanently fix these new prices. They should have been testing other price points. After all, they have been doing precisely that for almost half a year now and there is absolutely nothing stopping them from continuing to do so.

So as you can see, all this is very interesting. Also interesting is the fact that this announcement has come plumb in the middle of SolidWorks World. Which reminds me, in this comment, Kevin Quigley correctly guessed, “Whatever the news it will be perfectly timed to coincide with SolidWorks World.” Also in this comment H_L_Smith also almost correctly guessed that the news was “permanent lowering of product pricing to current promotion“. Almost because the new permanent prices are half that of the current promotion.

  • Kevin Quigley

    I think it is more interesting that they have reduced the prices of the higher end products (though perhaps that is due to Hypershot not being part of the package anymore – or if it is they are doing something Bunkspeed customers cannot!). By itself Alibre Design is a good product – I'm not knocking it for what it is. And at that price it is a bargain if you are in the market for a 3D CAD system. At that price you would be mad not to try it.

    But if you already use a 3D CAD system, aside from price, there is no real reason to buy into it. If I have say 3 seats of Solidworks, and I need to expand to 5 CAD seats, the choice is more SolidWorks, not 5 seats of Alibre (of any version). People cost a lot more than a CAD system.

    There is probably a very large market out there of 2D users who think they should be using 3D. There is also a large market out there of 3D users at work who want a home CAD system but cannot really justify a £4000 system like Solidworks.

    There is an even bigger market out there for AEC professionals who never use 3D.

    I just wish they would focus on what it can do and not on what others are priced at. It cannot compete with any mid range system on functionality. Sure you can model some great complex things in the ACIS solids kernel but you also need to produce drawings and all the other stuff that other systems are good at.

    If I was starting a new business tentatively, by moonlighting as an engineering designer working on say jigs and fixture design, I'd buy Alibre like a shot. But once I'd made the decision to pack in my day job I'd be more tempted to invest in a more mainstream solution – if only because I can get trained staff and my potential customer base is larger.

  • Bill

    Thanks for this news, Deelip. I have not agreed with everything Alibre has done over the last few years, but for the public to be able to buy a history-based 3D solid modeler for $97 is indeed very exciting, and I believe Alibre has done a very good thing here. I hope that it proves to be a good business decision as well.

  • maxfreeman

    Hey Kevin,

    I like your comments, but a few points to make. Do we expect a SW user to stop using SW and switch to Alibre Design? No. Do we expect SW users that could never afford a seat at home to sometimes want to design stuff, and use Alibre Design *in addition* to their SW license? Yes! This isn't about taking away SW licenses – it's about providing a great tool for $97 that lots of engineers can use at home, at work, etc.

    Included in Alibre Design Standard is Alibre Translate for free, which allows a pretty decent amount of file translation from SW, Pro/E, Catia, SolidEdge, Inventor.

    We aren't looking to start some battle with SW, or SW users, or any of that. We are just providing some great tools at a great price.

    Max Freeman
    Alibre, Inc.

  • Mark Landsaat

    I think the term “ultra low end” doesn't do Justice to Alibre, it suggests that the software isn't capable of doing much. In my opinion Alibre still represents entry level 3D parametric software.

    However, with the $99.- price it is possible that Alibre will change the entire 3D CAD landscape. I can guarantee that a lot of people/companies will be willing to risk $99.- to see if 3D modeling/Alibre is the right choice for them.

    I bought a seat of Alibre for $99.- when they first started their promotion and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised how much functionality it had. Now that the $99.- price is permanent I can only see their sales continue to go up.

    Most companies that are looking to make the switch from 2D to 3D will likely do very well with Alibre.

    I say more power to them and I hope it pays off for them.

  • Bill

    I agree with Max that many Alibre users are people that use another CAD system at work, but wanted something for home use that wasn't nearly as expensive. (I know that this applies to me, at least.) Something else I find very exciting about Alibre's news is that the yearly subscription fees have also gone down, at $97/year for Standard, $147/year for Professional, and $197/year for Expert. I applaud Alibre's price action, and hope that this deal is as good for Alibre as it will be for their customers.

  • http://www.deelip.com Deelip Menezes

    I agree. I meant “ultra low end” in terms of price, not functionality.

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