FUD was first defined by Gene Amdahl after he left IBM to found his own company, Amdahl Corp.: "FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering Amdahl products." The term has also been attributed to veteran Morgan Stanley computer analyst Ulrich Weil, though it had already been used in other contexts as far back as the 1920s.
As Eric S. Raymond writes: "The idea, of course, was to persuade buyers to go with safe IBM gear rather than with competitors' equipment. This implicit coercion was traditionally accomplished by promising that Good Things would happen to people who stuck with IBM, but Dark Shadows loomed over the future of competitors' equipment or software. After 1991 the term has become generalized to refer to any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon."
By spreading questionable information about the drawbacks of less well known products, an established company can discourage decision-makers from choosing those products over its wares, regardless of the relative technical merits. This is a recognized phenomenon, epitomized by the traditional axiom of purchasing agents that "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM equipment". The result is that many companies' IT departments buy software that they know to be technically inferior because upper management is more likely to recognize the brand.
Basic Sales Strategy…
1.…Make sure prospect knows Alibre is not good enough. Explain why Alibre is being offered at uneconomic pricing.
2. Show prospects benefits of quality support and training through a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller vs having to rely on other users.
3. Show SolidWorks history of innovation due to focus of company & business model.
4. Show SolidWorks solid financial history.
5. Demonstrate the business benefit of SolidWorks solution and return on investment.
6. Demonstrate the benefits of choosing a market leader
Executive Business Summary…
SolidWorks is a safe long term investment.
So goes the “Alibre Competitive Snapshot” produced by SolidWorks.
I read this with a tinge irony.
I recall putting together a similar analysis 20 years ago when I worked at Autodesk. It was called, “How to Sell AutoCAD Against CADKEY.” I worked at Autodesk in the late 1980s and was responsible for competitive analysis, so I would produce this sort of tool for the channel, the Autodesk VARs. I recall it being frustrating that once the shred of real technical comparison was exhausted I had to fill a lot of space with things like, “more third-party developers,” “more trained users,” etc.
To produce the piece I recall sitting and working with CADKEY at length and finding it had all these robust and elegant tools for real mechanical design in 3D. It could do things like calculating precise apparent intersections, snapping directly to them, trimming relative to them, etc., or projecting geometry onto other planes with the result being precise analytical curves, like an ellipse or spline.
For those who aren’t familiar with this, in those days a lot of 3D design was done in wireframe, in fact, at that time it was pretty much all done in wireframe, although some surfacing and solid modeling systems were available on the high-end. When viewing a 3D wireframe model on the computer from a given viewpoint, sometimes lines appear to cross or intersect, but in actual 3D space they don’t intersect. This is known as an apparent intersection. When modeling it is often important to be able to grab, snap to, trim or extend to this apparent intersection. CADKEY could do this sort of thing in its sleep with splines, ellipses and so on. It also supported real ANSI dimensioning standards. AutoCAD couldn’t even draw a real ellipse, much less calculate an apparent intersection and trim to it. And as hard as it is to believe the leading drafting system AutoCAD didn’t even support dimensioning standards. But we had more third-party developers and resellers -- and we had the “nozzle” in 3D! A shout out to Don Strimbu! Extra points for anyone who knows what I am talking about.
As an engineer, I was really impressed. I recall even calling CADKEY for support a number of times. I actually got to be known there, the Autodesk competitive guy, and they really supported me, graciously I might add.
I was sweating it because I knew, at that time at least, CADKEY was technically far better for mechanical drafting and design. I was young and idealistic, fully believing it was more about technical merit, what you knew, not who you knew. All they needed to do was keep doing what they were doing. Unfortunately, for them and the industry, they didn’t keep doing that. They got pushed off their game. FUD.
I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to the folks at CADKEY. I was part of the reason -- albeit probably only a small part -- that a better product was beaten in the market by a weaker one.
So back to the SolidWorks piece. I like and respect the folks at SolidWorks. They have earned their position the old fashioned way. Things are changing though; it’s no longer the days when the only competitor was Pro/E running on UNIX workstations costing five times as much. Now there’s Alibre offering comparable value at 20% of the price. And of course, a host of “also rans” that cost about the same. And there’s always Autodesk, pumping out Inventor shelfware with AutoCAD to pump up the numbers. Ah, for the good old days. PTC’s competitive snapshot against SolidWorks in 1995 could have read identically to the Alibre Competitive Snapshot of today by SolidWorks. What goes around come around.
We’re safe, not like them.
They won’t be around in the future.
How can they possibly sell their software at such uneconomic pricing?
Of course, "uneconomic," means uneconomic for SolidWorks in this case, not the customer.
To Alibre, as it did for SolidWorks in 1995, much of it boils down to the one operative phrase: “Make sure prospect knows Alibre is not good enough.” Of course, in 1995 it read, “Make sure prospect knows SolidWorks is not good enough.” The corollary, though, is that if it is good enough: “Houston, we have a problem.”
I’ve heard it said that in court a lawyer should never ask a question to which she/he doesn’t know the answer.
At the end of the day, if Alibre Design gets the job done efficiently and reliably, the arguments to pay thousands of dollars more are reduced to generalities, like more third-party partners and "we're number one." These are the barriers to entry that all entrenched vendors rely upon to maintain the status quo.
We believe most people just need and want the tool with which they can complete their job on time and on budget -- and they want it at the best price.
We have a simple proposition: try it. Once you confirm for yourself that it works as advertised, then you can choose whether things like more resellers, “history of innovation” or "we're number one," are compelling enough to shell out another $5,000 or more.
One other thing I found interesting, when you search on Google for Alibre, these ads come up.