A blog post from BIM person Gregory Arkin contains a number of confidently-made statements about what Autodesk intends to do with its upgrade and Subscription pricing model. If the information is correct, the news is all bad for customers. The prices for both upgrade and Subscription are getting jacked up substantially. In fact, for upgraders the pricing (70% of full whack for the cheapest upgrade) will be completely non-viable and you’ll effectively be forced onto Subscription. This goes beyond the trebling of upgrade prices that Autodesk’s Callan Carpenter spent some time defending here two years ago. The link in that post to the relevant Autodesk page doesn’t contain any pricing specifics other than the vague statement “save up to 20%”, but I’ll take Gregory’s word for it.
Gregory sees this business of upgraders being hunted to extinction as something that Subscription customers should have a good laugh about, but he’s wrong. Resellers can have a chuckle, but Subscription customers should mourn the lack of choice for customers. It means customers are no longer able to compare Subscription with any kind of sane upgrade pricing and make a decision about the best option for them. This lack of internal ‘competition’ is not even worth a snigger, because it inevitably means Subscription prices shooting up. Autodesk has racked up Subscription prices already and will do so again next year. For those customers who have fallen for the ‘free’ upgrade-to-suite offers, their Subscription prices will be higher again. With everyone on Subscription, Autodesk will just keep pushing up prices indefinitely. From Autodesk’s point of view, there is no down side to this; tie people in and the gravy train goes on for ever.
There are various terms in common use for this kind of thing. One is price gouging. Anybody who has ever booked a hotel near a big sporting event or bought drinks at a nightclub will be familiar with the realities of businesses doing this whenever they can get away with it. It’s part of the free market and generally perfectly legal, no matter how unpopular it makes the business. However, it only works when competition is effectively absent and customers are left with no realistic alternative but to pay up. Autodesk obviously thinks it is in such a position. Is it right? Sadly, history says it probably is.
Edit: This post originally stated that Gregory is a reseller. He has informed me that this is no longer the case and I have edited the post accordingly. My apologies to Gregory for the misstatement.