I wrote this a few months ago and it’s been rotting in my personal documents. I figured it should probably see the light of day and maybe inspire a few more folks to get involved.
Once, when I was a young child, my parents were friends with an extremely wealthy man named Eric. We spent long summers jumping on his trampoline and admiring his custom made bicycles. After knowing Eric for awhile we learned about how he attained his wealth. He was a self made man and who started his own business from the ground up. In the “flower power” age of the 1960’s, this man created bell-bottom like pants. They were actually a lot more like martial arts pants or yoga pants that you might see today. Anyway, after creating a large surplus of his product, he went out to try and sell it. He chose to sell the pants for $5 dollars a pair. Sadly, he could not sell them for his life. Nobody would buy the product. There was absolutely no interest. He tried to sell the product in department stores and at flea markets. He tried little local shops and big chains. Nobody was buying. Instead of chocking up the failure to being a bad product, Eric decided to do some economic research. He found that ‘perception of value’ has a lot more to do with selling a product then the actually quality or usefulness of the product itself. So, what Eric did to sell his product was very counter-intuitive. He raised the price.
The same pants, now at $50 a pair, could not be kept on the shelf. Eric, who initially had been making the pants by himself, had to buy a factory to keep up on production and even then he was swimming in orders. The only change to the product was the cost…and peoples perception of the value.
In Western society it is ingrained from birth that you have to pay for quality. This is evidenced by the existence of such phrases like, “You get what you pay for”. We all know that Blender is a solid product. But by giving it away for free, we are actually shutting many doors. We are fighting an ingrained from birth perception that free does not equal quality.
My fiancé works in Market Research and works for giants of many industries. ATT, Harley, and Corona are among her clients. I had a chat with her the other day, and she confirmed the knowledge that I had learned all those years ago from Eric. She claimed that this concept is called the Price Sensitivity Meter and there are actually 4 categories of pricing. The categories are: too cheap(aka crap), moderately cheap(good bargain), expensive(but within range to consider buying), and too expensive(luxury product). Product quality aside, for maximum sales you should be shooting for dead center. Somewhere between moderately cheap and expensive will yield the greatest amount of customers. At the current point in time, Blender is sitting at the too cheap perception level. I once again want to re-iterate, that I do not view Blender as crap, only that the first gut perception of the product is going to be viewed that way by most people in the western world. It makes for a hard sale right off the bat. It’s harder to give a quality product away then it is to sell it for a moderate price. Strange Indeed. If you want to learn more on this concept, Wikipedia is a good place to start.
Now, many of you may now be saying…Man, this guy is all doom and gloom! And he wants Blender to charge for their product! No way! I want my free Blender! Don’t take it away from me! I don’t have that money to spend!!!
What I have attempted to do, in the paragraphs above, is to define one of the key problems standing in the way of Blender being adopted into main stream industry, whether it be movies, print media, or commercials. Now, it is also not lost on me the underlying philosophy of Blender is: It is made for Blender Users. It does not cater to Hollywood. It caters to its own user base. I think that that user-base, though wonderful and vibrant now, has to potential to explode into one of the largest Open user-bases that exists, possibly able to rival that of Linux itself. (If you shoot for moon, at worst you will land among the stars)
Now Blender has one often overlooked yet overly stated feature that I do not think has been exploited to its full potential. None of the other high end commercial 3d graphics programs possess this feature. And the feature has the potential to be a real big shebang for Blender. Blender…is Open Source. Okay, perhaps my point has been lost on this crowd. Most of you know have long known that Blender is an open source product. You say, “duh, whats your point?” I say, “We have not been exploiting this fact to its full potential!”