As I read forums, I cannot avoid to read flame wars; this why I made this blog moderated on the comments section. I also used to read misconceptions, especially related to the FREE vs commercial topics.
Because of the fact I mostly read about Blender nowadays, I would like to deal with Blender-related misconceptions.
01. Blender is free, so you save money with using it
It sounds quite logical and I have no doubt that it is logical in some cases.
But being a sarcastic person I have to say:
1. I’m sure that the people who use this argument, go everywhere by foot (because it is cheaper than having a car or using mass transportation).
2. I’m also sure they never eat in restaurants, drink a beer, buy a camera and so on, because they can save money with it. They can cook at home, drink water, use their brain for memories.
3. Furthermore if they wanted to break into the market of DHL and UPS, they would force their employees to make the deliveries by foot, too (and it is not just cheaper than investing into trucks, but also more environment friendly).
With this logic they would be able to save a tons of money.
The reality is a little bit different.
For example the reason why I put effort to do my part in the development of Blender with my criticism and ideas is just partially aims the reducing of the costs of 3D modeling.
For me it is about the fact that I’m not a fan of monopolies.
I find it very problematic – in general – how big companies handle intellectual properties or how they are able to slow down and limit the evolving of the tools.
I find it bad and contra-productive that they are defending their markets against smaller or OSS developers with non-documented file formats.
I find it ridiculous how they patent everything, because they have the resources for that (US laws are really silly on this).
But these is just one side of the story.
The other part is what they offer for the money of the users.
An architectural visualisation studio requires a lots of investment on hardware, office, apps, employees, etc.
The price of Blender is zero.
The price of 3DS Max Design is 3900 EUR/seat. The yearly subscription is about 650 EUR.
Pricey, isn’t it?
Do the math!
No one makes an archviz studio for 1 month; if someone decides to make one, the expenses of a commercial package will consist of it’s once-paid price and the cost of the updates or yearly subscriptions.
So let’s count expenses for example for five years and just for 250 work days in a year (instead of 260).
In 5 year it counts 1250 days.
For 5 years the studio has to pay for the commercial package 3900 + (4×650) = 6500 EUR per seat.
It will cost to them 6100/1250 = 5,2 EUR per day.
The daily fee of a freelancer expert is between 100-200 GBP per day in England (117-234 EUR/day).
Let’s count with 150 GBP (175 EUR) per day, it counts ~22 EUR/hour.
So technically it is about 15 minutes of work per day to have an up-to-date ‘industrial standard’ package.
(You maybe say that my calculation is wrong, because I supposed that the studio always have jobs. You are right. But it is the fee and time calculated by the employee’s job, not the fee of the studio, what is higher.)
If the usage of the commercial (and pricey) package saves 16 minutes per day for the studio in the pipeline, it worths to go with it.
And I didn’t count the related electricity and hardware costs or the option if the studio buys ‘used’ software. It is possible in some countries, for example in Germany (respect for that).
The studio could even choose not to upgrade for a while or combining commercial packages with free ones for reducing costs.
And for the paid apps you get technical support (in my case I became disappointed on that, I will write about it), you get discounts on multiple licenses, etc.
So, is free software cheaper all the time?
I think it worth to think about it.