In what appears to be a last ditch attempt to win back market share, troubled Canadian software maker Corel has slashed the price of its Wordperfect Suite and Wordperfect Suite Professional. Prices now start at $89.
In a conference call announcing the decision, Don Sylvester, senior vice president of sales, said the move was aimed at raising unit sales of the product, but he did not state particular sales goals.
?This is just one part of an overall strategy," he responded to concerns about the impact on Corel?s bottom line. ?We are aiming to be profitable in 1998."
In 1997, Corel lost $231.8 million on revenues of $260.6 million.
Sylvester also said that future versions of Wordperfect Suite would be file format compatible with Microsoft Office, allowing both suites to be used side by side.
The suggested list price for an upgrade version of Wordperfect Suite 8 (Wordperfect, Quattro Pro, Corel Presentations, Corel Central and some other components) will be $89 dollars, down from $179. The Professional edition (the same components plus Paradox and Corel WEB.SiteBuilder) upgrade will resell for $179, down from $249.
A new version of Wordperfect Suite 8, which includes continuous speech recognition software from Dragon Systems, will launch in April for $129.
These upgrade prices are valid for upgrades from any word processing software. The prices for the full, non-upgrade product remain unchanged.
Street prices are expected to be even lower. This brings the basic Wordperfect suite down to a price point well below that of competing full function office suites, and near that of products such as Claris Works and Microsoft Works. Lotus Smartsuite, which has only one version, resells for about $150, and a Microsoft Office upgrade is about $220.
The new pricing is only for north America. The company has not yet decided on a similar price cut for Europe, though potential WP Suite buyers in Europe might do well to wait a while.
?It looks kind of desperate," remarked Suzanne Snygg, a software analyst with Dataquest. But she adds that the $89 price point is not so far removed from actual retail prices. Snygg thinks the price reduction will play well with consumers, but is unlikely to lure corporates.
?Corel is in a precarious position," she said. ?The office suite market is very mature and Microsoft has almost 90 per cent market share. Lotus and Corel are fighting over the remaining 10 per cent, and Lotus has the advantage of being linked up with IBM."
According to Dataquest sales data, Microsoft Office held 87.5 per cent market share by revenue in 1996, with Lotus grabbing six per cent and Corel trailing with 4.7 per cent.
Snygg does not believe that Corel is about to bail out of the office suite market. ?They bought Wordperfect for a song, and even though they are losing market share they have done nothing but make money out of it. So it wasn?t such a bad deal for them," she concluded.
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