I stumbled upon VSP when I got it as a "deal" when I purchased PSP X4 Ultimate. I needed a photo editor and wanted to experiment with HDR. I decided to give it a whirl and I like it! It's tough to make a product that a novice will find easy to use, yet can grow with it. VSP is a good "starter" program that offers some growth, but not enough, at least for me, and it appears others. It's a great "down and dirty" program (I still get frustrated with the momentary delays when moving around the editor performing functions) that again, offers more than Pinnacle Studio (I own also PS15 Ultimate Content), but not as much as Magix (which has 3 levels of software, each building on the prior version) and PowerDirector.
I want to clarify about the "eye candy". It is a selling point that sells software. It was like the "Kiki Effects" with the Amiga Video Toaster (oh was it fun doing a/b roll and operating the Amiga!).
Playing with VSP for me was easy enough to not look at the manual. What would be good are some VSP sponsored tutorials to get a beginner up and running on the Corel website. To have Introduction, Basic editing, Transition and Effects Basics, Basic DVD Menu and Burning, Title Basics, etc., I think would be better to help new people. Oh, and that background music (what you wanna do...) I really hate.
I agree with what you said about raising the price for features that we want (in the Wish List). Maybe have 2 levels of software. One for the beginners (lower priced to be competitive) and one for the more advanced user where it is built upon the "beginners" version. That would make the transition a lot easier to the more advanced software which has more features (and bling of course
You are right, the competition certainly asks for more money, but they also offer more. I think that Corel should look a little further up the ladder to keep current customers that are looking for more. Mind you, these are the minority customers. Many people are just happy with the way VSP is now. Corel usually ranks pretty high in the reviews that I read before I took the plunge. Mercalli was a big point being that it is a great stabilizer.
As for Avid Studio, it still, in its present form, offer secondary color correction, multicam, multi-trim, and dynamic time warping (things that I miss in Avid Liquid) and smart rendering. As a side not, Avid Studio rendered a project faster than the same project created in Sony Vegas Pro 64bit. This was done by a Vegas user. That gives you an idea on the rendering capabilities of VSP.