I don’t think it’s quite dead…yet…
But I think DAZ has made it very clear that it is no longer a software development company. In other words they no longer rely on revenue from the software they sell, but only from the content they sell. By giving away almost all of their software for free, that’s what they are saying.
And that’s not good.
And let’s face it, Carrara is so far behind the times in terms of features that people will pay money for that it’s kind of embarrassing. And trying to compete with Blender is almost impossible.
Now, if Carrara had some awesome features and was on the cutting edge, then maybe you could carve out a real, sustainable market of higher-end hobbyists who would pay for it. But the way it stands now, who is going to pay for Carrara? If someone asked you “Why should I spend all that money on Carrara?”, what would you say? Which is probably why you see such deep discounts on Carrara lately.
Pick just about any feature of Carrara, and you can find free software that does it better.
I think that the bottom line for all of DAZ’s software is that any future development (if there is any) is going to be directed at attracting content sales, so you’ll see “features” in Carrara and the rest of DAZ’s software whose main purpose is to implement new content developments. Stuff like Genesis (a new type of content) and other new content developments. Future development will be in content features, not software features. Because they don’t make money on software, they make money on content.
Which begs the question: “If DAZ makes their money on content sales, then why would they hire developers to work on software, instead of directing them to work on developing new content?”.
Personally, my guess is that in 2013 Carrara will be offered for free (or close to it), and it will wither away. And when (or if) Blender gets the ability to natively handle content, Carrara will become irrelevant.