Seriously, a “ticking time bomb”? That seems like hyperbole to me I mean Google is not hurting in any way, shape or form. They are worth what, $500b? They could have given SU away for free and not missed a beat on the “bottom line”. Tremble was also a productive company with lots of successful products before buying SU. We have one of their older GPS units and the software for it was not exactly free. Anyway other developers seem to have no problem in “giving” away a free/lite version to entice others to look at their more “professional” paid versions.
Simlab Soft: They have a free lite edition of their SimLab Composer that can be used commercially.
AutoDesSys: They introduced Form-Z free recently. It has a limited tool set but is a VERY capable system that also can be used with “no restrictions for professional, academic, or home use”. The files are even compatible with the 2 other paid versions. No reason a shop could not let some jr designers use it and then develop more in the pro versions.
Bricsys: Their BricsCAD Shape is a new player in the field that reads/writes DWG and seems to be based on their 3D Direct Modeling engine. It also can be used for any purpose.
Even AutoDesk pretty much gives Fusion 360 away for free, Granted you have to be either a student, hobbyist or start-up (commercial) that makes under $100k/year.
Just pointing out several examples that seems to buck the common generalization around here that “it can’t be done by successful companies”. Sure they want you to buy the other products but they also seem to be willing to “give the milk away for free” or at least some of it. Maybe they are like drug dealers. Give away a bit for free and wait to get you on the come back.