It’s probably unwise to make predictions about what is going to happen in technology. If so, I’m about to be unwise. So be it; if I’m wrong you can taunt me about this post in a few years. Here’s my prediction:
Autodesk’s attempt to move CAD users onto the Cloud is doomed to failure.
This is the first of a series of posts that will examine what I mean by that and the reasons behind it. The first thing that’s important to lay out is what I mean by failure. What I mean is that reality will not … Full post
Steve: Another issue I have with Cloud-based environments is the lack of customisation. One of the things that makes AutoCAD so efficient for people is that they can get it exactly the way they want it. With a browser-based environment, we’re pretty much stuck with what you guys decide to give us. Can you see any solution to that in the longer term?
Tal: From a pure technical point of view, there’s not a lot of difference in terms of the way you can customise an application on the desktop versus customising it on the web. I think AutoCAD, having … Full post
Steve: Autodesk is currently giving away these Cloud-based services, Butterfly for example. Presumably you’re not going to keep doing that for ever. Are you going to start charging for these services eventually?
Guri: Again, you’re pushing us to talk about future. Currently, for as long as this is in a Labs environment, we’re encouraging users to use it and we’re giving it free in the Labs environment and we’re not putting any limits on it during the Labs experiment. Once we make it a commercial product we may change that.
Steve: I put a poll on my blog asking readers … Full post
On 26 May 2010, I had the opportunity to ask Autodesk some questions about the Cloud in general and what was then Project Butterfly (now AutoCAD WS) in particular. The Autodesk people were:
- Guri Stark,Vice President, AutoCAD & Platform Products
- Tal Weiss, R&D Center Manager (Israel)
- Noah Cole, Corporate Media Relations
The interview was conducted by phone conference with no prior notice of the questions. Here is the first part of the interview, which I will be posting in three sections.
Steve: Guri, are you responsible for all of Autodesk’s Cloud-based offerings?
Guri: Tal and I are responsible … Full post
Deelip has just published an extensive interview with several Autodesk people about AutoCAD for the Mac. Deelip had a good set of questions and I suggest you read the whole thing, but if it’s all too tl;dr for you, then here is the lazy reader’s version of what Autodesk had to say:
- The AutoCAD code was split up into 3 sections: the core CAD engine (platform-independent), the Windows-specific (MFC) parts and the Mac-specific (Cocoa) ones.
- AutoCAD for Mac is incomplete. Choosing which features to leave out was done with the aid of CIP (oh, dear) … Full post
Here in Australia, we’re in election mode, so I have even more reasons to avoid watching TV. On those occasions when I do watch it, I am often annoyed by what I see. This is not a novel observation, but one of the things that annoys me about many politicians is their habit of sidestepping questions when interviewed. It also annoys me when interviewers fail to follow up these non-answers and let them slide. Depending on the circumstances (e.g. limited timeframe, more important questions to ask, etc.), there may be valid reasons for journalists failing to chase after legitimate answers … Full post
You may remember a month ago I raised the question What proportion of Autodesk customers really are on Subscription? Shortly after that, I sent Autodesk Subscription VP Callan Carpenter these questions following up on the interview:
I have a request for follow-up information arising from this interview. I hope you can find the time to provide some answers.
Preamble: Several people have called into doubt your assertion that the simplified upgrade policy affects only a tiny minority of your customers (you seemed to imply a figure of around 3% non-Subscription customers, with 1.5% who upgrade within a year or … Full post
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 … Full post
This 5th post concludes the Callan Carpenter interview series. For the record, this interview was done in real time over the phone, with no prior notice of the questions.
SJ: The 12-month cycle that you have for most of your software has come under some criticism from all sorts of people, especially me. Once you have your customer base practically all on Subscription, what’s the incentive for the 12-month cycle to persist?
CC: In what way have you criticised the 12 month cycle?
SJ: In that it damages the product. In that there’s not enough time to release a properly … Full post
Part 4 of 5 in this series.
SJ: There is always the fear that once you have all of your customer base on Subscription, you’re not going to need to offer those benefits any more. Can you assure people that that’s not going to be the case, that you are going to keep being “nice” to your customers?
CC: Absolutely. I think my team and I spend as much time and brain energy trying to figure out how to enhance the program as anything else. Our goal is to make Subscription a compelling value proposition; to make it not only … Full post
Part 3 of 5 in this series.
SJ: In one of my blog posts, I was pretty cynical about one of the phrases used in the press release: “the streamlining of upgrade pricing based on feedback from customers and resellers”. Was I wrong to be cynical about that? Did your customers really ask for upgrade prices to be increased to some nice round number?
CC: What our customers have asked for is simplified purchasing. We have a very complex price book and it leads to thousands of prices items, maybe tens of thousands when you have all the permutations across … Full post
Part 2 of 5 in this series.
SJ: Is there anything specific you want to say about what I have written in my blog?
CC: There are a number of things we can do to put Subscription questions and Simplified Upgrade Pricing into context. I think the first thing we need to recognise is that there is a very small fraction of our revenue that comes from upgrades at this point in time. For the last 8 years or so, our customers have fairly well self-selected to either prefer to be on Subscription and have the latest version and technology … Full post
A couple of weeks ago, Angela Simoes from the Autodesk Corporate PR team invited me to interview Callan Carpenter, Autodesk’s Vice President of Global Subscription and Support. Callan is responsible for the sales, marketing operations and product support associated with Subscription. He is also Vice President in charge of Jim Quanci’s Autodesk Developer Network. This morning, we had a very extensive discussion about Subscription and other topics that I intend to publish in several parts over the next few days. Deelip has already published a Callan interview, but mine is quite different.
In this post, I will let … Full post
This morning I spoke with CAD International‘s Nigel Varley. Here is a paraphrased summary of the interview.
SJ: When did CAD International buy the drcauto intellectual property rights?
NV: About two weeks ago.
SJ: You are currently helping drcauto customers with authorisation codes, is that correct?
NV: Yes, masses of them. It’s taking up a lot of our peoples’ time.
SJ: Are you charging for this service?
NV: Not at present.
SJ: Do you intend to charge for this service in the future?
NV: Maybe. We may need to, both to pay for our time … Full post
I’ve added a link to Autodesk’s new AutoCAD community site, AutoCAD Exchange. As with most things Autodesk, there are pros and cons. Here are my first impressions.
I think it looks good in a Vista-black kind of way. I know some of you don’t like the black look in software, but I do. The layout looks a bit cluttered and confused at first, but I’m sure visitors will quickly get used to where to find things. The site appears to be designed around 1024-wide resolution. If you have more than this, as most CAD users do, then there are … Full post
Time to lighten things up a bit, I think. While attending the AutoCAD 2010 product launch in San Francisco on 5 February 2009, I conducted a series of micro-interviews with a collection of AutoCAD bloggers and Autodesk employees. One geek asks 14 other geeks if they are geeks; nothing too serious here. I hope Shaan enjoys my tabloid journalist editing job right at the end.
Thanks to all the interviewees:
Heidi Hewett, Autodesk blogger
Lynn Allen, Autodesk blogger
Melanie Perry, blogger
Robin Capper, blogger
Brian Benton, blogger
In a comment on the first of these posts, Ralph G raised the possibility that these answers have been edited by marketing people. I have checked with Eric Stover and he assures me these answers come direct from the program managers concerned and are unmassaged by marketers. That ties in with the partial email trail that came with the answers. It also ties in with the impression I have formed recently that Autodesk is starting to open up a bit. That’s a trend I’m happy to encourage.
There’s one thing that clinches the marketing-interference matter for me. Despite … Full post
At the end of January, I asked for your questions to put to Autodesk product managers. My intention was to pose your questions in a video interview format while attending the AutoCAD 2010 product launch, but for logistical reasons I was unable to make this happen.
Autodesk’s Eric Stover kindly arranged for your questions to be answered anyway. The delay in getting these answers back to you is my responsibility, not Autodesk’s. The answers come courtesy of the following product managers:
- Diane Li – lead manager on AutoCAD;
- Guillermo Melantoni – 3D and Parametrics expert;
- Kathy O’Connell – … Full post
In this second part of the interview, the Autodesk trio continues to respond to the question about listening to customers.
While attending the AutoCAD 2010 launch today, I took the opportunity to interview three Autodesk people: Eric Stover, Jon Page and Shaan Hurley. I raised the issue of Autodesk being seen as not listening to its customers, and was given a very comprehensive response. Here is the first of two parts of that interview.
Disclosure: Transport, accommodation and some meals were provided by Autodesk.