Friday, 29 August 2008

Well that didn't take long - Carrara 5 Pro - free on a magazine again!

I'm not saying I was right, but it is pretty well timed. Only a couple of posts ago I was speculating that Caligari's give away of TrueSpace 7.2 might be their answer to Daz giving away Carrara 5 Pro on 3D World magazine, and we should expect the next move from Daz.

Guess what! Daz is giving Carrara 5 Pro away again - this time on Computer Shopper (sold in the UK for the princely sum of £4.99) - a magazine with a massive distribution. They might as well let people download it from the Daz website now, anyone in the UK who ever planned on buying Carrara 5 will just buy Computer Shopper instead. But I suppose there is the bandwidth issue, the download would be so popular it would seriously slow up their servers so this is just another way of getting market penetration.

Read about it on the Computer Shopper website here (Note, the content of the linked page will change next month) >

Meanwhile, where can we expect the next move? I think it's about time Maxon gave something away. I've not seen any offerings from them since Cinema 4D 6SE way back in about 2002. Can they feel their market share shrinking around them? Free is a hard price the compete with, and let's face it, Carrara 5 Pro and TrueSpace 7.2 are both pretty able programs. The workflow, or habit, (or even snobbery) that keeps some users loyal to ridiculously high priced software can only stand up to so much.

As software like Carrara keeps increasing its power it is only a matter of time before the devoted Max user begins to wonder what extra they are getting by paying $3495.00 for their license instead of the $549.00 they could pay for Carrara 6.

I predict that for most users, the added extras that come with Max are of a very niche nature, and lots of people could switch to Carrara and still produce what they want at the end of the day. Blender is in the running too, at an even lower price of free, but its unusual interface would make a quick switch too jarring for most users.

This developing situation reminds me of Quark Xpress. Originally a one product company that dominated the print publication industry as the "standard", sold for a high price and according to an old lecturer of mine didn't offer much of an academic discount. So Adobe launches InDesign with seamless integration with the other Adobe products the designers are already using, at a much lower price, and they practically gave it away for educational purposes. Even little Serif kept building their PagePlus until even that was hailed by industry journals as being a professional level DTP package at a budget price.

The result? Quark gave away a full copy of their Xpress software on a magazine for the first time ever around a year ago (it happened to be Quark Xpress 5). Were they feeling the pinch of shrinking market share? I reckon so. It would be interesting to look at their pricing structure now to see if they charge as much as they did back in their heyday of the mid 1990s.

I use this as an example that, no matter how "industry standard" a product is today, a new product is being developed right now that is just as good, just as powerful for every common application, and it is being sold at a fraction of the price (and in some cases given away).

One day many users will wake up and find that they can use this cheaper product for everything they need, and wonder why they should pay 6 times as much for the niche gizmos they never used anyway. And this is how market share is eroded.

Let the battle continue.

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