Bentley's announcement of raising prices (see CAD Insider post) for MicroStation subscription and adding the new Software Exchange option raised a few questions and made me want to take a closer look at the whole SELECT program. I sought out Joe Croser, Bentley's Gloabal Marketing Director for Platform products (MicroStation, ProjectWise and SELECT) for answers.
Croser confirmed that even if you had bought MicroStation years ago for only $2,500, as long as you are on subscription, you can get it's current value applied to any Bentley product with the new Annual Exchange program. You can do this only once a year and only when it comes time to renew.
Note that even with the old SELECT program, you could always update your software, but the new Annual Exchange program allows you to trade in one software program for another.
The key is that users must stay on the subscription plan to ensure that their software will keep its current value. What if you had let your subscription lapse? You will have to catch up with your payments, says Croser, before you can take advantage of this program. But what if you have let your subscription lapse so long ago that the cost to catch up would be prohibitive? Croser would not say, but CAD Insider suspects Bentley may be lend a sympathetic ear and negotiate.
What is the cost of the SELECT program? It was $625 an year (or 13% of the list price) for MicroStation and it is being raised to $725 (15% of the list price). Volume discounts are available. For other Bentley products, SELECT cost 15-20% of the list price per year. "So you see, we are just bringing up the cost of MicroStation subscription so it is in line with our other products."
"Suppose you have a 10 seat license of MicroStation, but you think you can make do with less, and you want to get into BIM," says Croser. "You can trade in one of those licenses for Bentley Architecture." Or STAAD. Or RAM.
One caveat: stopping the subsription program after taking advantage of the exchange option will cause you to revert back to the original program. Suppose you traded in MicroStation licenses for STAAD licenses. If you leave the subscription program, Bentley would have you stop using STAAD and go back to MicroStation (although it would the latest version of MicroStation). "You would revert to the program you had a perpetual license for," says Croser.
Croser estimates approximately 2/3 of Bentley revenue now comes from subscriptions. "We're a subscription company. The majority of our customers are in the SELECT program."
What accounts for the success of the SELECT program? Look what they get for subscribing, says Croser.
- Upgrades ("we like to call them 'updates' ")
- Telephone support ("not just email support, like Autodesk gives their subscribers")
- License pooling ("Autodesk charges 15% additional to pool licenses)
- Free conferences registration ("they do have to pay for classes but general sessions, exhibits are free, that's a $600 value")
- membership in the developer network
- 2 free eLearning courses (for MicroStation)
The price for MicroStation subscription increase is in effect after 1st renewal date after September 1, 2006. Other Bentley products do not have a subscription increase.
How does Bentley's subscription plan compare with Autodesk's. Autodesk has been trying to shift users to a subscription plan for years. Although the AutoCAD annual subscription rate is a few hundred dollars less, he estimates SELECT's value -- with phone support, free license pooling, e-courses, conference fee, redlining and membership in the developer network -- to add up to a lot more than the difference in cost.
"They're just not getting any traction," says Croser