MDD tool vendors differ in many aspects but they have one thing in common. They all (well, all those I’ve interviewed or I’ve discussed with, which I do believe are a representative sample) agree that the cost of customer acquisition is really high.
Roughly speaking, you must first attract their attention (e.g. sponsoring this site 🙂 ) in a market full of noise (by noise I mean that many tools market themselves as MDD tools, code-generation tools, model compilers,… while offering many different features so for a potential customer it´s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff). But, more importantly, then you must earn each client’s trust before being able to sell a software licence to him/her. This means that you basically have to first participate in one development project together with the client (for free or just covering your costs) to show him the benefits of using the tool. And, then, if you’ve managed to convince him you can hope to sell him a license to use in his future projects. IMHO, the main reason for this is that MDD is not a cool technology.
Whatever the reason, this fact shed some doubts about the scalability of the business model of MDD tool vendors. With such a high customer acquisition cost, growth of these companies can only be limited, unless people get more educated on MDD (so we don’t need to justify ourselves all the time) or some of the vendors manage to get enough visibility and brand awareness to inspire enough confidence to potential customer so that they decide to give the tool a try by themselves.