Altium makes a very nice product, however, they need to unbundle parts of the software that people do not use and therefore do not wish to pay for. For example... almost everyone I know only use Altium for schematic entry and layout only. The problem here is that users are forced to pay a fixed yearly support cost for the entire tool set of which only a portion they use. Adding to this is that if the user does not maintain the yearly support cost, they effectively have to repurchase the software every few years. Personally I find this quite offensive and have decided to stay at my current release. Secondly, although the newer releases have some features which are "nice" they really do not make me more productive, as the limitation is not so much the software, but my brain... and the time to design and develop new products.
Anyway, like I said, Alitium is a nice software tool, but their business logic leaves a lot to be desired.
Thank you for your efforts! Altium has moved to a VAR program now and so there is yet another layer to deal with. The VAR is nice enough and is trying to offer better extended support, but ultimately the subscription pricing structure is what it is. I spoke the VAR about this, but this only goes so far. Now, I am not saying that the support should be free, but a more reasonable amount. Given the number of tool packages I have (and I am just a small firm), I am seeing an average support cost of about $1000 per year... some as low as $500. This I find totally reasonable. I also made a suggestion to the VAR that Altium could have a tiered support cost structure where a smaller value (say $1000 or less) entites the customers to yearly upgrades, and a more expensive one allows updates more often and/or direct access to support personnel for issues. Personally I think it is prudent to charge a modest amount for updates and maintain a customer than to alienate the customer and perhaps have them look at other options every few years... As others have said... it is easier to keep a customer than to find a new one.
Agree, Altium is a great product. I've been using it since 2001 on Protel 99. However, as others have said, their new subscription pricing is way out of line. Lapsing in subscription should not mean you have to pay full retail of a new license in order to get the latest version on existing licenses! So instead of Altium getting a nominal amount for upgrading my existing licenses, they get $0 because it is outside of my capital budget for this year. Not paying new software prices for incrimental updates.
I just received a notice (April 11, 2014) that Altium in raising their prices... So, it would seem that they are not that interested in keeping their old customers, but have decided to look for new customers and ask them to pay more. The new price starting July 1, 2014 will be $9245 USD per seat. However we all will be happy to know that yearly maintenance will be maintained at $1750 USD per year, cough. Wow... That being said it would appear as if our comments were not read, consdered, or perhaps we are the minority?
Agree they have a good mid level product but there yearly fees are a rip off. The upgrades do not justify the price we have to pay each year. We have also decided to freeze our multiple Altium software licenses for the next 5 years at least as we cant see any improvements that can justify the subsription price.
I recieved a notice last week telling me that any versions of Altium older than 10 will have no upgrade value... and so all older Altium customers will be subjected to the new license cost of $9245 USD... Wow... simply Wow. Can a company do an even better job of alienating their custoemrs? Obviously they do not care the slightest about their customer and are simply pointing a sharp object at the customer's head and saying... you better pay for a mainteance contract or else...
@Kirby2008 I can understand that if you purchased Altium Designer in 2008 after we dramatically dropped our price (in reaction to the GFC) from $14+K (with first year subs) to $5495 (with first year subs) I could understand that you may think this is a big jump. But
The reality is that to keep the tools moving forward and keep providing value, we need to invest into R&D efforts.
Personally - I'm not speaking on behalf of Altium just now - I own a license to a certain well-known MCAD package which took the mech and maker world by storm by providing powerful MCAD design features at a price that was personally affordable. I purchased that package for $799 with subscription, and have paid as much as that two times since on subscription. That same package is now well over $2K but I am not complaining because it could be three times that amount and competes feature wise, head to head with the basic Solidworks (which is about $6.5K). On one hand, I can be annoyed that the price of that tool has risen dramatically, but in keeping a balanced view I know that those funds are being put to good use, adding capabilities that still cost me a lot less than if I went with a different tool.
It's kind of the same here. And the jump is not as big as my MCAD tool by a long stretch.
I might add - what other PCB design tool vendor is actually developing in the USA at this level? I think most people here would prefer to use tools developed and maintained in the west. Other directly competing packages are not - I personally have no issue with wherever the tool is developed, but many US military, Aerospace and even consumer electronics designers care very much. Altium is leading a charge by on-shoring to the USA, and this can only result in better support, higher quality, and more responsiveness to the majority of users around the globe - That's worth paying a *little* extra for.
Thank you for your comments, however, I think you are missing the spirit of my comments and other people's comments on here. The first is that your yearly maintenance fee is rather steep for those that simply wish to update their software. Some do not bother with any form of technical support (I have never called in for support, as it was not needed). Further the maintenance fee is "paying" for features that a number of people do not use... like your FPGA tools, etc. Perhaps it is just me or the 50-60 of my colleauges, but none of us use your firm's tools for anything else than for PCB layout. Consequently, it is annoying for contributing to the tool maintenance/cost for portions of the tool that are simply not used. The answer to this is to have a variable maintenance price based upon what the customers want... Remember, customers can simply remain at their current release and make an economic decision when they wish to upgrade... or now it seems... re-purchase. Given your current maintenace pricing, one can simply forego the maintenance fees every 5 years and be no worse off. You could argue that the newer tools are better and thus making one more productive, but I would respond, by saying the limitation is not the tools, but the human element and all the other items that are part of an electrical product... it is these things that are limiting the speed of product development... not the PCB layout tool.
The second point was that "forcing" customers to a maintenance contract tends to alienate them and/or create ill will. Perhaps I am old school, but I prefer to have my customers wanting to work with me and/or buy something from me... Forcing a customer to do something tends not to foster customer loyalty. Ask yourself... do you like being forced to do something?
As for your comment about now bringing back the company onshore... I have to ask, as for the longest time your firm seemed quite happy to be off shore. I am sorry but playing the "made in the USA" mantra is a somewhat hypocritical when your firm was abroad for so long. As for what value does it bring? It can bring excellent value to some, but that would be depend upon what the resulting cost will be?
As I said, I and my colleauges are perhaps the minority and so my comments are perhaps inconsequential...