Human nature being what it is you can expect a certain percentage of users who would use Make for commercial purposes. Trimble’s answer to that was to discontinue Make entirely and offer the web based version which further limits SketchUp’s capabilities by not allowing the implementation of extensions. I’m not sure that I totally agree with this plan of attack but I can fully understand Trimble’s reasoning behind it.
I am faced with a slightly different but similar sort of problem. I give my extensions away free to any student or teacher and it is solely on their word of honor that they will not use them for commercial purposes. I am sure some of those “educational” licenses are probably being used for real/commercial work out there but rather than try to limit my product or use some other heavy handed tactic, my plan is simply to keep improving my product so that the end user will WANT TO upgrade, and hence eventually renew their license(s).
When it comes time to renew the regular and educational licenses have the same pricing, so ultimately the educational users will have to renew at the regular price if they want to continue using the latest and greatest version of my product(s).
My philosophy is that if you build it they will come. A good product will naturally attract customers, you don’t need to compel people to purchase it.
SketchUp is a great product, that is why we are all here and having this discussion. Unfortunately, SketchUp’s decision to discontinue Make is a heavy blow for many users probably because it created a gap in the product availability that was previously satisfied. Let me explain…
In my mind there are generally three types of users:
1.) The pro user who uses SketchUp regularly as part of the work flow and whose corporate pockets are deep enough such that licensing SketchUp is really a non-factor. SketchUp could probably sell their licenses to this type of user at triple the current price and it wouldn’t even give them a second thought. This type of user not only creates 3D models with SketchUp but also uses extensions to augment their toolset and creates renderings and constructions documents from the 3D models created within SketchUp.
2.) The student or casual user who tinkers with 3D modeling and the web based version is more than adequate to serve their needs. They need a free product and they don’t really need too many bells and whistles. The native SU tools are good enough, no specialized plugins are needed.
3.) And finally the semi-pro user who would like to use SketchUp but either their project is a one off or they simply don’t generate enough revenue to justify the cost of licensing SketchUp Pro. This is the user group that was impacted most heavily by the discontinuation of Make. Pro is too expensive and the web based version (without the plugins) is too watered down and inconvenient to use. Let’s face it Make 2017 is still a vastly superior product compared to the current web based version of SketchUp, it just is.
Fortunately, Make 2017 is still available and this third user base can still fall back to this alternative if they so choose. However, eventually it will become too obsolete, and in my mind SketchUp stands to loose out on a huge chuck of the market when this becomes the case.
I like Dan’s proposed pricing models in the above link, I really do think he is onto something with what he has proposed. Wouldn’t it be better to pick up this third segment of the market with a slightly watered down version of Pro in the $100 - $200 range rather than simply toss the opportunity away?
Some will argue that doing so will cannibalize the full fledged Pro licenses. Perhaps that is true to some degree, but I do believe that you still stand to gain way more customers than you would ever loose in licensees stepping down to the lesser product. Many of these semi-pro users will never even attempt to purchase a full Pro license, in fact they will look for other questionable methods of obtaining licenses for SketchUp in desperation. If you give them a reasonable alternative they will take it.