Alibre price drop becomes permanent – 3D CAD for 99 bucks?

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Well, the world of multiple web-technologies let the cat out of the bag a touch early today. In advance of riding high on the buzz surrounding SolidWorks World (complete speculation on my part by the way), Alibre are gearing up to announce that they’ve axed the price of their products permanently. Matt Lombard posted the news on his DezignStuff blog – apparently a day early and as a result, pretty quickly removed the post. Unfortunately the world of RSS feeds means that the post (below) popped up in my inbox and there’s a few details.

There you go. Alibre’s entry level product is going to be around the $99 mark with, I’d guess, similar reductions in the other product configurations. For me, this raises a huge question. There’s a huge amount of effort required to develop a 3D CAD system and Alibre is, without a doubt, a pretty functionally rich product. But can the business be sustainable when the entry level product is just $99? While it’s an incredible price, you have to wonder how long that can last. Yes, there are upgrades that bring greater functionality, but much of this is licensed technology so there’s a percentage of that revenue that doesn’t appear on Alibre’s balance sheets

So, for me the fundamental question is this.

Should you base your working practices, workflows and processes on the basis of a software product that appears to be unsustainable on a future basis (I’m no MBA so I might be wrong)? Yes, it’s a very cost effective solution, but if it becomes critical to your business in the way that CAD often does, is a short term, low-cost investment the best thing for your business if that key part of your operation is operating on thin ice? I’d love to know what you think…

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