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Oct 01, 2009



Interesting question. While the price of an app is a factor the real cost is time. Time spent installing, learning, fixing, working around...

It's also true that no app, even if the price is $0, is free. Often the time spent working through the hassles can make a "free" or cheap option far more expensive esp if the words "file translation" are involved


I remembered it.

Emerging Solidworks and the bad luck selling shares forcing to do that.

R. Paul Waddington

This is never going to be an easy question to answer as those selling consumables and whitegoods will tell you. Their success comes after much research and many mistakes.

CAD is a tool not a consumable so it needs to be thought about in terms of long ownership and use; complicated by the developers need to generated continuing income.

But as a comparison: the first drawing instruments I bought, my drawing board and machine cost me the equivalent, the best part of a years salary - back in the sixties. They were all of high quality and at the time I was roundly criticized for spending that much.

All these tools were used daily until my full time switch to CAD in 1983. They are all in top order and still available to use when ever I wish too.

The reasons for buying quality was easily justified!

In comparison PC CAD in 1980 cost also cost years salary and more in some cases and has an on going cost that for some means somewhere between two to four weeks of their working years income must be spend annually on the CAD tools?

As a commercial comparison the manual draughting tools have beaten CAD on return on investment, easily?

That's the challenge for vendors and users; how to balance the perceived, against the real value of these tools.

Deelip's latest comments on pricing are worth some consideration.

Curt Moreno

When it comes to pricing there is a sad misconception held by 99% of all people that price and value somehow have anything to do with one another. Your assertion that psychology plays into the pricing and choice of a CAD application is spot on.

Let's pick on Autodesk. Not only because they are a huge CAD developer but because it can be fun too.

What would happen tomorrow if AutoCAD was suddenly $100? Units would fly off the shelf! Engineering firms would come out in droves to buy new seats. That would seem to justify the concept of "price sells". But we are talking about AutoCAD.

In this scenario AutoCAD presents a value that far outweighs its new price point. There are:
- 20+ years of experience
- A well known name
- Your clients may require the DWG format
- Your in house standards are set for ACAD already
- You feel better going with a developer you feel will be there to improve and support the product

So what about applications like Blender? Blender is a complete 3d modeling and animation package that is open free AND open source! While it may have a dedicated core of users it's market penetration is nowhere near what 3ds Max is. And yet there is a price difference of thousands of dollars.

So why doesn't the price sell?

It's really quite simple. The concept of a free product or service delivering a value beyond miniscule is utterly foreign to anyone over the age of 15.

Setting aside the fact that firms are willing to pay more to continue renewing licenses because they have an entire business culture evolved around a product. Forget that some users are diehard fanboys and will never switch apps let alone stop preaching the benefits of the CAD package they use. You can even forget that in the CAD industry the cost of ACAD or Microstation per seat is assumed to be the cost of entry to play the game. Forget all of that.

We are suspicious of what is free or cheap. It is all tied to our perceived value. And as long as that perceive value (which includes the 1000's of hours you have w/ the app, the standards you have, the clients you have, the love you have for it and the fond memories of your first CAD line) exceeds the cost of the seat, or at the very least mitigates it, we will continue to pay huge licensing fees.

I think that is probably pretty widely assumed that the price ceiling of CAD applications is temporarily suppressed. I think that will change in the long term. However, when the next generations of CAD professionals and engineers grow up we may see an entirely different economy of value. Those kids that are 15 who have never known a world without the internet and its free services may drive a new economy. They know that free services such as Gmail can and will reliably deliver real value.

I think I have lost my way on this so I will close by saying that the market for CAD software is what it is because of CAD professionals. Developers with a long history and entrenched positions know they can charge large fees because the market will bear it. We are that market.

- Curt Moreno -
The Kung Fu Drafter


CAD software price? Currently too high for both the software plus the yearly support fee

Cadkey..!! I've been reading about it more lately that in years past. I truly think that the $495 price didn't really bring any worse luck to the company selling it(Cadkey),
this was a very popular software at the time among its users, me included, mainly because
it was a tool specifically made for mechanical designers, easy to use and the first 3D PC CAD,wireframe, but still very useful, besides there were some versions of it that included 3D axis CNC/CAM integrated along with FEA using Boundary Method and even some SOLID modeling and included a library of symbols, like fasteners, etc.

Now, that was value back then, marketing unfortunately, besides product updates has always been two of the weakest link associated with the Cadkey software until these days after several acquisitions, yet there is a strong following of users out there that if Kubotek were to reduce the price of KeyCreator now like Alibre did, maybe not as much but equally as close, since these products are both different, even thought they target the same user market pretty much, I think KeyCreator and Kubotek would do very well this time around.

In my opinion most solid modeler should cost
between $500-1000 with integrated drafting.
Additional modules for CAM/FEA, etc, that integrate with the core package, then could go for about 1/2 of the price of the main application, this way you only buy what you deem necessary for the work you intend to do.

Evan Yares

Regards the CadKey Case Study: There was quite a bit more to the story than became publicly known.

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