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David Vs Goliath
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Azavy launch video
We seem to be getting wind of a new 3D printing marketplace almost daily as companies jump on the post-State of the Union Address bandwagon. In the past month we’ve seen the launch of the following: 3DLT, Trinckle, Fabulonia, CGTrader, 3D Burrito (Not to be confused with the amazing BurritoB0t), plus Azavy (Check out their rather light-hearted pitch video) and those are just the ones we’ve heard of.
These will almost certainly not be the last marketplaces we see this month, let alone year, but one will always come out strongest, sometimes it is the first past the post and sometimes it is a newcomer with a fresh approach and great design. Whether any of the newcomers last the distance remains to be seen.
The current 3D printing marketplace trend mirrors that of the early days of the auction site. eBay launched in September 1995 (yes eBay is old enough to vote!), previously that year a site called OnSale were the first company to launch an online auction site. While OnSale may have been the first they couldn’t compete with eBay who announced within three years they’d sold over 26 million items to half a million users. This success meant dollar signs appeared in the eyes the dot-com world. Just three years after eBay launched we had CityAuction, DealDeal, First Auctions, Phoebus. When the dot-com bubble burst who was the only auction site left standing? We’ll give you a clue it begins with e and ends with Bay.
Even OS giants and, at the time, untouchable Microsoft tried their hand at the auction site, unsuccessfully backing FairMarket, Todd Raker, an analyst with Credit Suisse First Bolton told the BBC in 1999 "This (the new Microsoft network) definitely raises the competitive stakes for eBay, the biggest advantage eBay has had is the embedded base of users. This new network basically offers a real threat because it will compile a base of users that will rival the eBay user base."… eBay acquired FairMarket just three years after launch.
Will this current trend of 3D printing design places follow suit? I’d imagine so, Shapeways, Sculpteo and iMaterialise are too far ahead and too established, if one of these startups shows promise then the chances are one of the big boys will swoop and acquire their users and site's USP.
Shapeways, in particular, have grown exponentially in the past 12 months; social media manager Elsia Richardson supplied us with these stats:
- Shapeways currently have printed well over 1,000,000 3D printed products to date
- Over 10,000 designs uploaded per week.
- The community is now made up of 250,000+ members in over 130 countries, in 2011 there was 100,000 members.
How is any startup going to compete with that level of growth? 3D Burrito has launched with 12 free designs, none of which are originally sourced, Trinckle’s beta site has 36 designs, 3DLT accidentally launched with stolen designs, Fabulonia and Azavy are yet to launch, though both are hoping to have a slightly different USP.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the little guy winning, who doesn’t love a good underdog story? But it is difficult to see how any of these newbies will compete with Shapeways’ level of integration to sites like Terrainator or Sculpteo’s with apps like Let’s Create! Pottery. Perhaps, if this really does take off, an eBay or Amazon might even dip their toe in the water, that’s when it would get really interesting.
What do you think will become of the countless startups?