SpaceClaim hauled Westcoast journalists out of bed at 7am this morning to talk about their new 3D CAD software. (I missed half the presentation, because of driving my daughter to school.)
This is a new kind of 3D MCAD software, of which you'll be reading details of from other journalists. I didn't hear much, because SpaceClaim provided a toll phone number, and there was no way I was going to subsidize their marketing costs!!!
From the few screen grabs I saw before and after my trip to school, it looks like SpaceClaim hopes to sell four million copies at $125/month (that would make them a $6-billion a year company). I did spend a couple of telephone dollars listening to the Q&A at the end, where I learned that when you stop paying, the software reduces to a viewer and exporter.
As one editor noted, "You need perpetual access to your CAD data, people like to own it." If selling on a month-to-month basis would work, then all other CAD vendors would be doing it, too. But they don't; every so often, some CAD vendor announces it, and then the plan quietly fades away.
From the demo that I watched silently, I saw this interesting feature: when the 2D plans are created from views of the 3D model, the "2D" plans are still 3D. The demo jock rotated the 2D sheet, and I could see that it was 3D models sticking out of the "paper." The demo jock then did 3D editing of the 3D model in the 2D plan view -- as well as adding dimensions, cut sections with hatching, etc.
The SpaceClaim management team consists of these heavyweights:
- Mike Payne, former ceo of Spatial (the ACIS people), as well as co-founder of SolidWorks and PTC.
- Dave Collard, former vp finance of Revit.
- Daniel Dean, co-founder of PTC.
- Rich Moore, formerly with Alias and Computervision.
A lot of experience there, and a lot of thinking that's gone into how the software should work and how it will be sold. Don't blame me, but I don't agree with some of the company's marketing concepts. There was the slide titled "Market Dynamics" that listed the True Competition:
- Continued exclusive use of 2D or current methods.
- Poor past experiences with 3D systems.
I am not sure that those bullet points necessarily enter the minds of Chief Purchasing Officers.
Given that (from reading the website at least) the data is stored in an open XML format, the data *will* remain the property of the user, surely.
And software that becomes inoperable after expiring is not really such a shock/revelation. A lot of high end CAD/CAE applications (those on annual lease or rights-to-use licensing) will perform the same trick. It sounds like Spaceclaim's software will be a little bit more graceful about it (and still let you view/export)
Posted by: | Mar 13, 2007 at 05:59 PM
I think they ought to do a survey with one question:
Does the world need another CAD system? Yes or No (pick one)
This is all the market dynamics they will ever need. (In related news, 99.999999% of respondents said 'NO').
I predict SpaceClaim will claim its (outer) space within 2 years or some clueless CAD company will buy them out. Isnt that their strategy all along ?!?!?!?!
Posted by: Bin-theyr Don-dat | Mar 14, 2007 at 01:03 PM
I find it curious that you chose to write about and pass judgment on SpaceClaim, after admitting that you "missed half the presentation" and apparently didn't listen to the other half. This is worthy of publishing? Come on, you know better!
Posted by: | Mar 14, 2007 at 01:25 PM
Of course we do not need just "another CAD". I believe that users do need however, a good 3D CAD. Todays's 3D MCAD tools are all pretty much the same. They have followed more or less the 3D modeling paradigm that PTC introduced with ProE, without really doing something different. There is so much to do in the MCAD space. There are so many users’ needs that are not served and I hope SpaceClaim is bringing some fresh air. I also agree with the first post regarding the superficial review by ralph grabowski. He does know better.
Posted by: Donato Mangialardo | Mar 16, 2007 at 01:00 PM
I looked over Newton's AECNews article, and I had flashbacks...I've heard it all before, yep, sounds just like thinkdesign (which is also subscription based, going to revolutionize the CAD world, etc).
Also, there are plenty of CAD companies that don't follow the Pro-E model (candidates include think3, Ashlar-Vellum's products, KeyCreator, IronCAD), but they don't have the marketshare of the "big four".
Spaceclaim could be an excellent program, and succeed where others fails, but I predict there will be no CAD revolution at $3K/year.
Posted by: Tony in SV | Mar 19, 2007 at 09:08 AM
I can't help but think that the negative comments about SpaceClaim here are from CAD users. SC is targeting non-CAD users, offering them an easy way to edit the model. Why the offense? The criticism that "there are already plenty of CAD programs" out there doesn't directly apply. The question is, why aren't these people already using CAD. That's the survey to conduct, not "do we need another CAD program."
Posted by: Randall Newton | Mar 19, 2007 at 09:57 AM
I think you are missing some points:
1. I make no claims about how great or bad the program is, but their current business plan isn't going to fly (at $3K/seat, and probably at much less), partly because:
2. changing habits is hard to do, even if the alternatives are much better (both design processes and specifically software products), especially if the alternatives require additional investment, and
3. I don't think they're the first to try this - I'm pretty sure thinkdesign had the same idea - subscription based ($2K/year?) CAD for the rest of the design chain, and we've seen the results (no big impact). We'd have to dig through old CAD mags from around 2000 to verify this.
Posted by: Tony in SV | Mar 19, 2007 at 10:56 AM
Don't forget when PTC started, everyone argued the world didn't need another CAD system...
Also don't forget that when Mike started Solidworks, PTC themselves argued the world didn't need another CAD system... and certainly not a copy!
If a memory is for a lifetime I wonder than why they are so short...
Anyone see a trend?
Posted by: Chris Williams | Mar 20, 2007 at 08:52 AM
My grapevine has been mumbling something about how people talk to SpaceClaim and then return to take a second look at SketchUp...
Posted by: | Mar 20, 2007 at 01:38 PM
As a long time user of a Non-History based Cad software: IronCad and Cocreate Solid Designer I think most designers dont have a clue that they are needlessly struggling with overly complicated, outdated design methods.
The ease & simplicity of direct modeling makes it easy so that ANYONE can edit the model and make ANY changes needed without dealing with history problems and models blowing up.
Designers are free to design & concept as they would like & not be CAD jocks. Parameters can be applied as needed but are not required.
The software can be learned quickly without expensive training. We have built hundreds of very large assemblies in IronCad with great success. I am currently learning Pro-E for a new employer and I am shocked how difficult it is to use & how slow a tool it is to generate simple geometry. In Ironcad you are always working in assembly mode - top down. No separate part/workplane mode... unlike ProE.
In summary Go SpaceClaim!! history based Modeling is yesterdays old, Nasty, out of date technology... Time to get rid of the CAD jocks...
Posted by: ebedding | May 15, 2007 at 10:03 AM
SpaceClaim's subscription sales model will never fly in machining job shops who badly need an alternative to Solidworks to work with non-native solid models that they receive from customers. The reason SpaceClaim will make next to zero sales to machining job shops is that the machining job shop business is cyclical. When business is good you work with the newest release. When business is down you don't upgrade and you find some way to make due. It's a shame that SpaceClaim, has so much to offer the machining job shop but has a sales model that cuts off this market. It's also too bad that IronCAD, etc. won't add the tools that SpaceClaim has and target the machining job shop market with exactly the kinds of CAD tools they so badly need.
San Diego, CA
Posted by: Jon Banquer | May 15, 2007 at 01:31 PM
Well, here we are a year later, and although SpaceClaim is still around, there isn't much notice of them. To their credit, they do have a LT version that you can buy in the $700 range, and the LTX version with Rhino support for around $900. Maybe we'll see some action now. I've tested it thoroughly on my projects, and I would say it is priced right now.
Posted by: Dan B | May 08, 2008 at 09:20 AM
Good technology doesn't rise to the top on it's own. With very few exceptions in order to gain serious market share you need a VAR network. Both IronCAD and SpaceClaim have a very weak VAR network. It's unfortunate that a VAR network is needed because it hurts the end user with much higher costs. Siemens/UGS now has a major technology advantage with Synchronous Technology and their own CAM. Without spending large dollars and developing a really strong VAR network Siemens/UGS won't take market share from SolidWorks or Inventor who don't appear to have any answer to Siemens/UGS superior technology advantage. There is nothing I would like to see more than to see SpaceClaim make it but they have very weak VAR's and they don't appear to be making any progress getting stronger ones. SpaceClaim started with a marketing plan that I said wouldn't work and it didn't work. Who knows how much money SpaceClaim burned through with their initial bad marketing strategy? What would really help SpaceClaim gain market share is getting someone like Surfcam or Smartcam to create a full blown CAM program to run inside of SpaceClaim and then use the CAM companies VAR network to market the combination of SpaceClaim CAD and their CAM running inside of SpaceClaim. I work for a very large company in California and we are very successful because we focus on partnering. I believe SpaceClaim needs to do the same thing with a strong CAM company in order to survive and they need to do it yesterday!
San Diego, CA
Posted by: Jon Banquer | May 10, 2008 at 08:55 AM