In my recent interview of Autodesk Subscription VP Callan Carpenter, he made these statements:
…there is a very small fraction of our revenue that comes from upgrades at this point in time.
We’re down to very low single digits of customers who upgrade, and of those only half of those upgrade 1 or 2 years back. So we’re talking about approximately 1.5% of our revenue that comes from customers upgrading 1 and 2 versions back.
…[customers who upgrade] 1 or 2 [releases] back, a very small percentage of our customer base, less than 2% of our customer base that was buying those upgrades.
Others are calling those numbers into doubt. Deelip Menezes (SYCODE, Print 3D) estimated the numbers of AutoCAD users not on Subscription at 66% (or 43%, depending on which bit of the post you read), by counting the AutoCAD releases used by his customers and making assumptions about their Subscription status from that. That’s an extremely suspect methodology, as I pointed out:
Your numbers don’t really tell us anything about Subscription v. upgrade proportions. All they tell us is that large numbers of people wait a while before installing a new release. We all knew that, surely.
However, Deelip’s post did prompt me to point out this:
…there is a fair point to be made about people on earlier releases who have hopped off the upgrade train altogether, or at least for a significant number of years. How would they be counted in Callan’s figures? They wouldn’t exist at all, as far as his income percentages are concerned.
Owen Wengerd (ManuSoft, CADLock) asked a random sample of his customers and came up with 82% of them as non-Subscription customers. He also noted that he could come up with a 3% non-Subscription figure if he cooked the books by selectively choosing a convenient time slice. Owen doesn’t state the numbers in his sample, or indicate (or know) how many of the non-Subscribers are also non-upgraders.
I’ve added my own poll (see right) just to add to the mix.
Nothing we can hang a conclusion on yet, then. But Ralph Grabowski (WorldCAD Access, upFront.eZine) uses Autodesk’s own figures to point out that upgrade revenue has increased 18% and Subscription revenue only 7% in the last year. I’m not qualified to perform an analysis of the 2011 Q1 fiscal results, but I can find the figures listed as Maintenance revenue ($195 M) and Upgrade revenue ($51 M). That looks to me like about 21% of the Subscription/upgrade income is coming from upgrades.
Also, according to the published figures, Autodesk has 2,383,000 customers on Subscription. If that represents about 97% of customers, does that really mean Autodesk has only about 2.5 M customers? If I’m looking at these figures in the wrong way, feel free to put me right.
So, what’s the truth? What proportion of Autodesk customers really are on Subscription? 3%? 21%? 43%? 66%? 82%? I’m going to ask Callan a follow-up question about this and will report back on what he has to say. In the spirit of this post, I’ll be asking him for a lot more detail. Watch this space.