Solid Edge Design1, offered by Siemens PLM Software to the Local Motors community, is an example of new subscription-based pricing models that are driving down the cost of CAD software. (Source: Siemens)
Beth, when I was thinking about what could be driving down costs for CAD, I pondered whether cloud computing was a factor. For the vendor, however, I'm not sure cloud computing is a cost saver. From the vendor's point if view, it seems like cloud computing would be a more expensive way to serve the customer. When you license the product outright, it lives on the customer's computer. Seems like that would be less expensive than running it your server and letting the customer access it.
@Rob and @Naperlou: I think you're both right. I think there's been a lot more competition in the CAD market with lower cost offerings like Alibre, SpaceClaim, Kubotek, and others, which is driving down the overall cost of software in this category. But more than that, I think it's the growing popularity and feasibility of cloud-based offerings and pay-as-you-go or utility-based pricing models. CAD and design tool vendors are taking a page from mainstream business software providers and experimenting with new delivery models and licensing schemes. I think @Naperlou is right that everyone will be better off as these new models mature and gain traction.
Beth, I agree that we are seeing a sea change in the CAD world. I think that it is driven by the whole pay as you go software pricing model that we are seeing in the cloud and in other areas. This will also greatly exapnd the market for these products as well. I think the vendors will be better off in the long run.
I think you're right--CAD software licenses have traditionally been so cost-prohibitive for many that they resort to using educational versions or dabbling in arrangements that aren't on the up and up when it comes to legal licensing structures.
I think we're going to see big changes as CAD and PLM vendors get with modern times and recognize that $5K to $10K individual license fees just don't cut it in a world of pay-as-you-go, utility-based software pricing models. While lower cost licenses have always been a customer requirement the vendors tried to meet (I know I'll open the door for argument there), there really are options today allowing them to make good on their intentions. I think we all just have to stay tuned.
Beth, I know some of the professionals are using educational version of CAD for professional services in an unhealthy manner. Every year they are distributing some licenses to educational institutions for learning purposes, with one year key. So the lab peoples are reselling it outside to professionals and many pirated copies are also in market. Inorder to avoid such illegal practices, the best way is to fix the pricing tag to an affordable level.
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