Why Autodesk’s rental won’t make big money from pirates

One argument I’ve seen in support of the all-rental software model is that it will rake in lots of cash from those users who aren’t currently customers, i.e. pirates. Here’s an example (Carl Bass, November 2016):

We believe some of these people were previously pirating the software and now have a much more affordable option with product subscriptions. This is consistent with the fact that emerging countries are some of the fastest growing areas for product subscriptions. In other cases, these new users have been using an alternative design tool and could now afford software from Autodesk.

Putting aside the correlation-does-not-imply-causation thing, rental simply isn’t a much more affordable option than perpetual licenses. On the contrary, it’s much more expensive (except for short term use). Repeating an #AlternativeFact doesn’t make it any more true.

The idea that people who had been using non-Autodesk software have switched over to … Full post

Another series of Autodesk statements

Having established what happens when Autodesk claims to have no plans to do nasty anti-customer things, (it goes ahead and does them), let’s examine another nasty anti-customer thing it hasn’t got around to doing. Yet.

Will Autodesk discontinue the maintenance program that allows customers to keep their perpetual licenses up to date? Let’s see what Autodesk has been prepared to put in writing so far:

There are no announced plans to end maintenance subscriptions.

Matt DiMichele, August 2015, Autodesk Community Perpetual License Changes forum

Hmm, we all know what “no plans” means, don’t we, children?

I assure you we have no plan to discontinue maintenance subscription plans for existing perpetual license owners.

Andrew Anagnost, September 2015, Cadalyst interview with Robert Green

“We have no plan” again, eh? That’s a concern.

Our lawyers frown on me using words like “never.” Do we have … Full post

A series of Autodesk statements

Here are some statements from Autodesk about not having any plans to do some things. Things that the more paranoid among us suspected were always in the pipeline. Things that seemed to be just joining the dots along a predictable path Autodesk appeared to be taking. Things that later ended up happening. But nevertheless things that were, apparently, unplanned.

Simplified Upgrade Pricing FAQ, July 2009:

Autodesk does not currently have any plans to eliminate upgrades or cross-grades or make Autodesk Subscription* mandatory.

Callan Carpenter, May 2010:

…we are still perpetual, plus Subscription* or maintenance. I don’t see that changing. It’s hard to predict 50 years into the future, but we have no plans for that.

Carl Bass, August 2013:

Because we’re starting in a different place than Adobe, we don’t feel the need to force people, as they … Full post

I snigger at your pronouncements of technological inevitability

It always amuses me when people proclaim a rising technology as not just promising, but the way of the future that will inevitably take over. Anybody can see that’s the way things are heading, they say. No use fighting it. Don’t question the certainty of the forthcoming tech revolution, you Luddite! It’s a sea change, resistance is futile, get on board now or be swept away on the flood waters of progress.

What a load of bollocks.

What really surprises me is when people who are old enough to know better join in with this sort of thing. Those of us who have been around a while have seen many “inevitable” technological revolutions dry up and fizzle out, some more than once. It gets old.

Remember a few short years ago when touchscreens were going to be part of everybody’s desktop setup as ubiquitous as the mouse? I do, but … Full post

Return of the bullshit – baked beans edition

In an October 2015 post I’ve only just noticed, snappily titled No More Software Like a Can of Baked Beans: Why Software Subscription Serves It Up Fresh, Autodesk VP Andrew Anagnost bravely attempts to sell Autodesk’s move to all-rental software. This is a rather belated response, but fortunately there is no statute of limitations on skewering spin so let’s get started.

How does he go? On a positive note, top marks for creative writing! The general theme is a strained and somewhat Californian analogy in which perpetual licenses are like canned goods (bad), and rental is like fresh produce (good). However, it’s presented well and professionally written. Among the highlights are:

  • Perpetual software licenses are like high-fructose corn syrup – no, I’m not making this up. Stop laughing at the back there!
  • This is a change that is simply a better experience for everyone – everyone who … Full post

Autodesk perpetual license owners to get screwed big-time

Hidden in amongst a bunch of the usual highly dubious subscription statements from Carl Bass is an announcement that spells doom for Autodesk perpetual license owners. I will resist the temptation to skewer Carl’s spin (for now) because this announcement is much more important:

Bass also confirmed that the company plans to converge the two existing subscription models — maintenance and product subscriptions — into a single offering over the next two years. “If you look out to fiscal year 2020, we want to be in a place where, first of all, we have a single kind of offering with a single back office and infrastructure to support it, one that will be a combination of product subscriptions as you see them plus a consumption model on top of it. That’s where we see the business heading.

“Along the way, it’s how do we motivate customers to … Full post

When is a subscription-only update not a subscription-only update?

Before I get started, I want to clarify the meaning of the word ‘subscription’. For about 15 years, the word Subscription (note the initial capital) meant something specific for Autodesk customers. It meant you had bought a perpetual license and instead of paying for periodical updates, you paid for a year’s Subscription in advance. In allowed access to any new release that appeared during that year plus various other benefits.

That thing that was once called ‘Subscription’ has now been renamed ‘maintenance’ (no initial capital) in Autodeskspeak. So what does ‘subscription’ (no initial capital) mean? Rental. You pay in advance for use of the product for a period and when you stop paying, you stop using the product. This is now the only way to obtain Autodesk software you don’t already own. In addition to access to any new release that appears during the subscription period, it provides other benefits … Full post

Autodesk excludes maintenance customers from AutoCAD 2017.1 update (Edit: actually, it doesn’t)

Edit: it turns out that when Autodesk said this was subscription-only, that wasn’t true. See my later post for details.

A mid-term update containing a bunch of useful stuff, AutoCAD 2017.1 is the first update made available exclusively to subscription customers (renters). I’d love to tell you about how great this update is, but I can’t because I’m not allowed to use it.

If you’ve been a loyal customer of Autodesk for 30 years and have paid countless thousands for your software, upgrades and Subscription (now called maintenance) over those years, even if you are right now still paying maintenance to keep that software up to date, Autodesk is rewarding that loyalty by waving a virtual digit in your general direction. If you’re not a renter, you’re now officially a second class customer.

Autodesk is going to progressively hammer in a wedge to try to separate … Full post

When is a global offer not a global offer?

Confusion reigned yesterday when my post on Autodesk’s “FY17 Q3 Global Field Promotion” assumed that Global meant what it said, and the offer made to me in Australia was the same as in other countries. That was a mistaken assumption, and I have updated the post to reflect that; my apologies for the confusion.

That said, it was a not entirely unreasonable assumption given the superficial similarity between offers worldwide and the following in Autodesk’s fine print in multiple global Autodesk sites:

Offer available from 7 August 2016 through 21 October 2016 worldwide with the exception of the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria

The situation is not that simple. There are two very different offers that look the same at first glance. People in some countries get a much better offer than others. The offer I discussed in yesterday’s post allows you … Full post

Autodesk’s mixed rental and perpetual license offer

If you’re on Autodesk’s mailing list you have no doubt been receiving increasingly desperate offers aimed at tempting you into renting your software. None of those have really been worth a mention, but the latest Autodesk FY17 Q3 Global Field Promotion for Asia Pacific contains something noteworthy. It acknowledges the value of perpetual licenses and allows you to retain yours. Don’t get too excited though, it does not apply in other regions and only allows you to retain your old  license. Anything new is still rental-only.

Here’s how the offer works. Let’s say you have an old copy of AutoCAD lying around. This acts as a magic token allowing you access to cheaper rental. Autodesk halves the cost of a 3-year subscription (rental) of pretty much anything (doesn’t have to be AutoCAD, it could be something much bigger) and your old AutoCAD perpetual license remains unaffected. You can … Full post

How do I know most Autodesk customers don’t want rental?

In a recent comment, I was asked how I know Autodesk’s move to all-rental is the opposite of what customers want. Have I conducted research? This is an excellent question and deserves a proper answer.

So how do  I know this? Why am I so convinced? There are several independent sources of evidence, one bit of critical thinking and one undeniable proof. They all point in the same direction. First, a bit of evidence.

  • There are many public places on the Internet where this issue has been discussed, including Autodesk’s own discussion groups. The viewpoints expressed everywhere are overwhelmingly against Autodesk’s all-rental plans.
  • There are private places Autodesk customers hang out where I have access, and I receive private emails. Again, the overwhelmingly majority of the viewpoints I see expressed are very strongly against Autodesk’s strategy.
  • There’s a poll right here. How’s it going?
  • None of … Full post

Disaster in progress – Getting it wrong

No, not Autodesk getting it wrong, me  getting it wrong. In recent posts, I supported my arguments against Autodesk’s move to all-rental software with faulty evidence. As pointed out to me by several commenters, I completely failed to take deferred revenue into account. I would like to sincerely thank those who pointed out my error.* Although I included a disclaimer about not being a financial analyst, I should have gone further and simply not ventured into areas I am ill-qualified to cover. I got it wrong. I therefore offer unreserved apologies to Autodesk and my readers.

What now?

I have done myself a bunch of graphs that I think paints a fairer picture of Autodesk’s position, but there’s a reasonable chance I’m wrong about that too so I won’t be publishing them. Instead, In a day or two, I will remove the content of the offending … Full post

Disaster in progress – Autodesk continues to lose heavily

This post originally contained assertions about Autodesk’s financials that were based on flawed understanding, and has been removed. It’s not really possible to delete things from the Internet, so if you ever want to relive the joy of seeing me get things spectacularly wrong, feel free to use the Internet Archive to do so.

Battle of the Bullshit part 2 – Autodesk’s sophistry

In my last post, I gave Bentley a well-deserved slap for, er, saying things that perhaps weren’t entirely factual. Now it’s Autodesk’s turn.

What’s this about? Carl White, Senior Director of Business Models at Autodesk, wrote a blog post Not so fast Bentley: Separating fact from fiction responding to statements made by Bentley in its press release Bentley Announces Autodesk License Upgrade Program. Some of Carl’s observations on Bentley’s claims were perfectly valid, but unfortunately he went beyond that and wrote a few more things – “facts” – where he’s on shakier ground. Let’s examine Carl’s interpretation of reality, shall we?

Fact #1 – No Autodesk customer ever  loses the right to use the perpetual software license you’ve purchased, it is “evergreen”.

This is generally true. There are exceptions (read the EULA), but let’s not split hairs. In the vast majority of cases, we don’t … Full post

Battle of the Bullshit part 1 – Bentley’s terminological inexactitudes

I note with interest the blog post Not so fast Bentley: Separating fact from fiction by Carl White, Senior Director of Business Models at Autodesk. In this, he responds to statements made by Bentley in its press release Bentley Announces Autodesk License Upgrade Program, stating:

Earlier this week, Bentley announced an “upgrade program” for Autodesk customers. We found the offer to be disingenuous and mischaracterizes what Autodesk offers our customers.

OK, let’s have a look at what Carl is complaining about. Here’s one Bentley statement that could be considered questionable:

For consideration by owners of Autodesk perpetual licenses facing Autodesk’s imminent deadline for the write-off of the future value of their investment, Bentley Systems is offering recovery of the value otherwise subject to forfeit.

Carl has a point here. The “imminent deadline for the write-off of the future value” line is presented as fact, but at this stage it’s … Full post

Last chance to buy Autodesk software – should you take it?

If, like me, you’ve been receiving increasingly eager Autodesk emails urging you to action, you’ll already be aware that Autodesk will end the sale of its last remaining perpetual license software lines on 31 July 2016. The End Time has already arrived for AutoCAD, so the only way you can now buy any form of AutoCAD perpetual license is as part of a Suite, and you must also commit to a maintenance plan. Of course, any Suite is substantially more expensive than AutoCAD, both in terms of initial cost and ongoing maintenance fees. However, if you only buy software and aren’t interested in renting it, this is your last chance to do so. (Or is it? There’s always the possibility that Autodesk will abandon its all-rental strategy in order to stave off its losses, in which case all bets are off).

In sales, this is known as the … Full post

Disaster in progress – Autodesk’s all-rental plans are failing

This post originally contained assertions about Autodesk’s financials that were based on flawed understanding, and has been removed. It’s not really possible to delete things from the Internet, so if you ever want to relive the joy of seeing me get things spectacularly wrong, feel free to use the Internet Archive to do so.

Suites to be replaced by Autodesk industry collections

I just got this email. Maybe you did too:

Dear Christopher [sic],
I have some important information to share with you.
As we continue our transition to a fully subscription-based business, we remain committed to providing you greater value, more flexibility, and a simpler way to access the Autodesk software you need.
On August 1, 2016, we will introduce Autodesk industry collections and end the sale of Autodesk Design & Creation Suites.
Industry collections will provide you access to a wide selection of the essential Autodesk software for your profession. They will offer immediate access to new technology, cloud services, and several licensing options. In short, industry collections will give you the freedom to access the software products you want, when you want them. Learn more about the industry collections here.
To make … Full post

Why owning stuff is still important

Let’s start with a few questions:

  • Do you own your home or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
  • Do you own your car or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
  • Do you own your TV or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
  • Do you own your computer or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?

If you’re like me, you answered the same for most or all of those questions. I own all of the above and rent none of it. I prefer owning all of the above. Why? Three Cs:

  • Continuity. If I own my home, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll be able to go on living in it as long as I like. There are exceptions (wars, natural disasters, etc.), but ownership is generally much safer than renting if it’s … Full post