Sorry, but I think the "finished animation" explanation paints a too simplicistic picture also. It's obviously true that the "eye-candy" produced with a certain software plays an important part in the way the product is perceived (and purchased?). But by that token, Houdini should probably be way bigger that it is, right now, as it has been used on numerous films especially for the "eye-candy" VFX. In todays mixed pipelines this kind of reasoning falls flat completely, however. If this were all there is to advertising/marketing all competitors to Maya could just pack it in. Advertising and marketing (not necessarily the same thing) shouldn't rely on the perception that already exists, good advertising and marketing aims to influence the perception that already exists. In that light, the whole "companion" slogan of some years back was bad marketing IMHO as it didn't try to change the perception of the customer (even ever so slightly), it did merely state what the customer already held to be true. And that's no way to sell something new. (And by this I don't want to start another "companion" riot, I am using it here merely as an easy example).
The one thing this whole discussion, however, makes me wonder about, is what happened in the two years since the "Good news, Goooood news!!!!
" blogpost @ Planet Softimage. Is this really just the recession setting in? Or was Mark painting a too optimistic picture to begin with?