Scott Karp is talking about Content Businesses Don’t Scale Anymore: "...the loss of pipe control — i.e. the inability to force people to consume content they don’t want..."
In his context, he's taking about how new Web sites allow us to abandon the fat newspaper, which contains numerous sections we never read -- content that's forced on us through the pipe. Or YouTube replacing the forced pipe of the television network.
Could "loss of pipe control" apply to CAD software? Perhaps users would prefer it if CAD vendors were no longer able to force features that aren't wanted.
Karp's other example was how we abandoned film cameras so quickly: "When customers find a way to avoid buying the excess baggage, they change quickly," he quotes from The Internet Allows Consumers to Trim Wasteful Purchases by William Bulkeley. "After all, [some] business success relied on forcing customers to buy things they didn't want."
Could someone like Alibre make their software a la cart? Or is that perhaps not desirable in CAD software.
More times than not... most software sold today contains a whole slew of functionality that most users either don't need or have the time to discover let alone learn to use. It may be safe to say that the average user only uses 20% of the functionality of the software they use 80% of the time.
That old 80/20 rule truely seems to apply to most software sold today... CAD programs included.
As a software developer I can see that an ala cart means of purchasing software functionality would be attractive to the end user if the cost of purchasing specific functionality allowed them to save substantially over the price of the 'full' version.
AutoCAD proved this when they created AutoCAD lite. Unfortunately for AutoDesk... I believe AutCAD lite has negatively affected (and continues to affect) their bottom line. Though they are a thriving company, I have to believe there are times when they wished they could put the genie back in the bottle on that decision.
Posted by: Gerald Myroup | Dec 05, 2006 at 01:36 PM
Broadly I like what Alibre is doing but its got some small holes that need addressing that could make it a killer app.
"Unfortunately for AutoDesk... I believe Autocad lite has negatively affected (and continues to affect) their bottom line. Though they are a thriving company, I have to believe there are times when they wished they could put the genie back in the bottle on that decision."
Is another way of looking at this situation to say that the market has spoken and Autodesk, and some others, don't like what they see. That is, that customers actually know what they want to use and have chosen accordingly? Tough pill for some to swallow eh!
Posted by: R. Paul Waddington | Dec 05, 2006 at 07:11 PM
Software vendors can't win. I've heard these two laments since Day 1, and not just with CAD software:
A. The vendor offers a one-price, all-inclusive product. Complaint: "Why do I have to pay for functionality I don't use?".
B. The vendor modularizes their product so you only need to buy exactly what you want. Complaint: "They are nickel-and-diming me to death. Every time I want specific functionality they charge me for it."
My guess is that the one-size-fits-all approach is the cheapest to manufacture and distribute. Once the software is written, it probably doesn't cost any more to put it all on one CD or DVD and to package it. On the other hand, the segmented approach requires much more paperwork to keep track of packaging variants, different manuals, inventory, licensing, and so on.
Posted by: Bill Fane | Dec 11, 2006 at 07:44 PM
We (i.e., Alibre) have actually designed our applications and licensing mechanisms to allow us to offer our products a la carte.
We have tested this in special promotions and programs that we closely track and monitor.
Some might find the results interesting; we did.
Posted by: Greg Milliken | Dec 13, 2006 at 04:13 PM
I think that SOA-based CAD products stand the best chance of delivering a la carte envisaged here. We already gain a la carte access to various business solutions that are SOA-based.
Alibre, since they came up, is also a front-runner in web-based provision of CAD tools, as well as providing affordable and usable CAD applications.
So how interesting, then, that IBM announced SOA-based PLM technologies this week. Hopefully this might be the 'interesting' innovation that the CAD industry has been sorely lacking in the last couple of years.
Posted by: Rachael Taggart | Dec 13, 2006 at 05:51 PM