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Calling It like I see It - May

ImageThe Business of 3D software: Whatever field we enter into, it is honorable to make a profit on our efforts. With that said, I have noticed a trend in the 3D/CAD software industry. Smaller companies scale their prices in relationship to the market while giants in the industry take advantage of the situation to swallow up the smaller ones. It is apparent that some companies no longer are working for their customers and potential clients best interests, but for the stock holders of the company and base their decisions on profit margins alone and seem to answer only to the Board of Directors.

Goliath seems to want to force subscription based software and frequent upgrades on their customers to increase cash flow and maintain increasing profitability. They hide behind software piracy, which is a legitimate complaint, and the need to offset their financial losses. I would feel a lot better about that stance on their part if they weren’t getting rich and buying up their major competitors every chance they get. It is one thing to pay the price for the proliferation of illegal software, it is quite another to fund their campaign to take over the 3D/CAD software world.

You may think that this path would lead to their downfall, but while they have the best products the consumer base is forced to continue supporting them to stay competitive in the market. This in my opinion will end when there is no longer innovation to swallow up and the large company is forced to return to their roots and produce creative products and cater to their customers or face a decline in market share to young innovative companies that are able to resist their advances.

I have noticed that some larger companies with high-end products that are not as attractive to Goliath due to their smaller market share are offering slightly stripped down products that are priced in the mid pack and competing with the hobbyist level programs with more bang for the buck! Take SoftImage XSI Foundation for example, in my opinion on of the biggest bangs for the buck. Sure you can’t upgrade it unless there is some sort of promotion, but I imagine that if you needed an authorization code to re-install it a few years down the road, Avid would provide it, more on this topic later.

An aspiring 3D artist would probably be foolish to purchase a hobbyist level program similarly priced when making their first major software purchase. They could start out with a solid program that behaves just like it’s big brother which is used in the game and motion picture industry. This could lead to a negative impact on the mid-level programs.  Lets hope Avid’s portfolio is strong and diverse enough to protect them from Goliath; the Industry really needs them to thwart a major Monopoly. I am not forgetting young companies like Maxon who has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years, or NewTek who has been around since the beginning. I consider them the rear guard protecting the flanks. Then there are the niche companies that specialize in one aspect of CG and try to make themselves useful to users of the major packages, companies like E-onsoftware with the Vue series, who really excel at what they do.

He is paranoid you say, well today my worst fear came to pass, all right maybe not the worst, but up there on my list and I saw it coming and could do nothing to stop it. Goliath e-mailed me to say, hey we are going to stop authorizing your software if your hard drive ever dies or you need to move it to a new machine, sorry out of luck. But, we are so nice, that we are going to offer you two options, the first one is so sweet, I am sure you better take it. You can give us $1,995.00 of your hard earned dollars right now and we will upgrade you to the current version, must act quickly offer expires soon, or wait until the inevitable event occurs and you need to re-install the software you purchased from a company we swallowed up and pay us an additional $2,105.00 that you are saving if you take us up on the first option.

Guess what, when that inevitable event occurs, some competitor is getting my $4,100.00 and I won’t look back, that is if there is another company around the way things are going. If not I will char sticks in a fire and scrape images onto buckskins or take up cave painting!

Fictitious Disclaimer: All characters are fictional and any resemblance to actual characters is coincidental. The Opinions Expressed here do not Necessarily Reflect Those of a Rational Mind. In addition the author is prone to run on sentences. 

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