Why is software priced on the number of surfaces?

Discussion in 'Software' started by Guest, Nov 29, 2001.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I wonder why most yacht design software is priced based on the number of surfaces you need to create the hull? This appears unique to the marine industry – you don’t see general cad software priced by the number of walls or windows you can draw with it, or word processors or office apps priced by the number of words you can type in a document? Wouldn’t it be more fair to price software based on the profit made using it?
  2. Gades
    Joined: Nov 2001
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    Location: Mallorca

    Gades Senior Member

    >>Wouldn’t it be more fair to price software based on the profit >made using it?

    Actually that's it. Let's say you use Maxsurf to design your new sailing boat. If you have just one surface, your model will consist of the hull itself. If you have two surfaces, you'll be able to trim your transom with a plane surface (for example). If you add a couple of surfaces, you'll have your keel as well (one for the body and one to "close" it at the bottom). And goes on like this.

    So, depending on the number of surfaces you can use, you'll get a better profit.

    In the last hull I designed I used about over 10 surfaces.
  3. Jeff
    Joined: Jun 2001
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    Location: Great Lakes

    Jeff Moderator

    The problem with pricing software based on profit made using the software is how would you ever police that? The honor system would be great if everyone would always be honorable, but failing that I don't see how it could be done.

    One way to look at it is that the more surfaces are involved, the more complicated the hull is and the more value good software has to get it just right. So good software is more valueable for someone doing a 20' boat which is very complicated than someone doing a 50' boat that is very simple.

    Of course with all design software, the cost is high because designers don't constitute a big market compared to office users for example, so the cost of developing the software and sustaining the company and its employees has to be payed for by many fewer users. And it's important that the company behind the software is healthy so that they can release updates and new versions and continue to provide support, so you're not just buying the software package you use today but also a share in the software's future.
  4. Steve Hollister
    Joined: Sep 2001
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    Location: Rhode Island

    Steve Hollister Junior Member

    Hello From New Wave Systems,

    I think we were the first to come out with a lower cost boat design program that was limited to fewer surfaces. I have been doing boat and ship design software development for well over 25 years, but NWS officially started about 15 - 20 years ago, along with most of the others, like FastShip, MultiSurf, Vacanti, AutoShip, and MaxSurf. Back then, the market was just the top-end designers and builders and the software had to be expensive. We were the first (early 1990's) to aggressively lower our prices and to provide multiple versions of our boat design program.

    Rather than eliminate functions like hydrostatics and plate development (that everyone needs), in the cheaper version, we decided to limit the number of surfaces. I admit this is a rather crude approach, but it is not without precedent. Some finite element programs provide low cost versions of their software that are only limited by the number of panels that can be used. We felt that the limited surface version could handle most simple round bilge or chine hull boats. If you need to design more complicated shapes, then you are probably using the program for commercial work and can afford the full version.

    Actually, I think this is now a non-issue. Our ProChine program ($195) can handle up to to 10 surfaces per half-hull (chines hulls only) and includes full hydrostatics, stability, resistance and has the full plate development and expansion capability and 3D rendering. Our ProBasic program ($395) can also handle up to 10 surfaces, but includes the ability to define any round bilge or chine hull shapes. Our full capability ProSurf program costs only $795 ($295 for students - $250 for school lab license) and has unlimited trimmed NURB surfaces, our dynamic relational constraint system, a full set of general 3D surface sweeping, extruding, lofting, and shelling commands. It provides a database of over 1000 2D airfoil shapes that you can extrude or loft into virtually any 3D airfoil shape. You can use this program to define your complete hull, both inside and out. Since the early 80's, our programs have increased dramatically in functionality and decreased enormously in price. Some have said (and us too) that our ProSurf 3 is better than software costing 10 times more.

    As for basing the cost of the program on the amount of "profit" that a customer generates using the software, I would have to give out a lot of free software! Besides, nobody sells anything that way. Most all companies price their products based on demand and how much profit "they" can make! We have lowered our prices dramatically because there is a big demand for our software at the low end and we also have a general purpose version of ProSurf 3 called Pilot3D (www.pilot3d.com). We perhaps lose credibility because our software costs so little, but I feel that the days of very high priced hull design and fairing software are over. Perhaps if you market it just to the top end designers and shipyards and you include other software and support, you can make the high prices work. But, then the problem is how can you have a low cost version of your hull design software without eliminating a lot of functionality!

    Best Regards,
    Steve Hollister
    1 person likes this.

  5. Gades
    Joined: Nov 2001
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    Location: Mallorca

    Gades Senior Member


    I think that your philosofy is the proper one. Having low cost software, you get more people to try your programs; you also get students/amateurs as myself to learn with your software. And once someone become a professional, there's a big probability that you'll prefer to use the software you already know

    I'll have a look too it. Right now I just have Maxsurf, but of course I can't use this copy "legally" ;)
    1 person likes this.
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