This is pretty damning commentary. And maybe a bit 'rash'... 

It does make me think hard about Mentor and the cost/vs. productivity
If, I say,* IF * Altium is shifting its focus to the embedded systems market
as a way of garnering revenue... it may mean that they have come to the
conclusion that there is no more or not enough money to be made in the PCB
design industry for them, for whatever reason. I doubt this, because I know
that Protel has the lion's share of the market in the UK and the rest of the
world for that matter... 

Logically, their business model tried to change awhile back... they tried to
introduce a system whereby support services would be the revenue stream to
replace new sales of PCB software here in the U.S. They may have reasoned
that Cadence and Mentor are getting along this way. They have a customer
base that has bought into the regular payment of fees for services... and
expect to be kept operating because of their regular annual payments.
Software upgrades and service packs are funded by the service agreement
monies, and they make a killing in the 'Training Center' area because nobody
can sit down and learn it without training. Protel failed to make that
happen... we as a body rejected the idea. They may have decided to take a
different tack at it... 

 This reminds me of how the CAD market used to be before the desktop
computers were available... Huge fees for the initial purchase of equipment
and software, a year in setup and customization, a full time 'programmer'
type to handle upgrades and customization of the software, and a large
payment to the CAD vendor every year for maintenance. 

I don't know about you, but I hated that business model. Only very large
companies could afford the cost of doing engineering in those days... the
'small guy' just bought a drafting board and a light table... no software or
maintenance contract required... and worked like a dog to try to keep up.
We can't go back to those days anymore. Bishop graphics doesn't sell the
tape and Mylar. But... there is Protel.

Mentor demos very well. Mentor has the features that we should have in
Protel. I used it for the first time in a class/seminar at PCB WEST on HDI
Design. They offered it as the tool to demo the class exercises and it was
remarkable easy to use for that class... (I remind you, there was a Mentor
Tech support guy there in the class making sure we didn't have a bad
experience) It got me interested. I checked into it later and it was my
choice for the class at Palomar. Little did I know that it was going to be
so hard to get it implemented into the class curriculum and difficult to use
for my students. But that is the past.  I expect Mentor will garner a large
part of the PCB market over the next few years. It is a complex system and
not for the squeamish... it takes real effort to get your arms around it. 

The EDA industry has a lot of struggling players who have been bought up by
bigger 'fish' because they were not able to survive even with the
maintenance revenue... That's what Mentor did, they bought Veribest
(Cadnetix) and saved their overwhelmingly difficult product BOARD STATION
from extinction... Cadence bought Orcad. Innoveda bought Pads and then
Mentor bought Innoveda... gobble, gobble. 

Those big vendors like Cadence and Mentor will all adopt the old business
model because the only players will be big companies... no competition,
maybe Protel can't compete. Or maybe we just don't see the whole picture...
Lots of 'maybes' in there.  I think Protel has a market... it's guys and
gals like us that are willing to hold on... but nobody can continue to wait
forever. I would prefer that Protel remain a player and fix the product...
there is a need for the smaller companies to have somewhere they can go to
get their board software. As the economy picks up there will be a lot more
startup shops and they will need Protel... or a cad vendor like them if they
want to design in house. Then there's always the guys who set up shop and
contract their jobs. And then there's China.. hmm that's another subject.

 If Mentor was cheaper Protel would not have a chance. Hang in there Protel
and get the product working before sending it out. And... listen to your

Best regards, 

Bill Brooks 
PCB Design Engineer , C.I.D., C.I.I.
Tel: (760)597-1500 Ext 3772 Fax: (760)597-1510

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, April 09, 2004 11:51 AM
To: Protel EDA Forum
Subject: Re: [PEDA] Good schematic/PCB development suite recommendation?

  edsi wrote:

>Altium better start to listen to folks like Ray.  Ray came to the same
conclusions that everyone else has about DXP without anyone holding a
prompter if front of him.  Ray's statement are pretty significant from a
marketing standpoint
I was at the PCB design expo last month.  Altium was a no-show.  I 
talked to a number of vendors (not just PCB design software vendors) 
about how the show was going etc.  When I mentioned that I was using 
Protel, a number of them wanted to know what was going on with Protel. 
 Several vendors independently told me that they had seen a lot of very 
unhappy current Protel customers at the show looking for a new package. 
 As one DFM software vendor put it, he did not see how Altium could 
avoid going under with the number of unhappy customers he had seen at 
the show.  

The fact is that Altium avoided the PCB expo where PCB designers could 
be found and showed up in force at the Embedded Systems show where few 
existing customers would be around.  This can lead one to only two 
conclusions: 1) Altium is doing a fundamental change in their business 
model and is abandoning the PCB end of things and moving to a high level 
design entry company.  or 2) Altium is now completely focused on the 
short term and is looking for a quick buck wherever it can be found with 
no emphasis on continuing customer relations and support for existing 

I personally liked Mentor Expedition and will most probably switch later 
in the year.  Yes, Expedition is several times more expensive than 
Protel, but after I take my time and the cost of a Protel induced 
disaster into account, it is looking dirt cheap.

I will most probably evaluate DXP/2004, if I ever actually see the 
upgrade.  I received an e-mail from Altium almost 6 weeks ago stating 
that my upgrade was shipping, but have yet to see it.  Calls to Altium 
have yielded nothing more than excuses and bold faced lies: "No upgrades 
were ever shipped before March 14"  If Altium can not manage a simple 
task of shipping an upgrade to a customer, how on the earth do they 
expect me to trust them to put out a software that actually works?


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