by Jay Vleeschhouwer
Autodesk has reinstated the availability of AutoCAD on the Mac, as expected since at least December 2008. At that time, I wrote in a note:
[We] could envision that as part of its product strategy for 2009 and beyond, Autodesk could reinstate or introduce wider availability of some of its key products on the Mac platform.
There are of course some products today that do run on the Mac but we could see a material presence. Indeed, up until about the mid-1990s Autodesk did have a reasonable presence on the Mac along with Windows. However that commitment waned when Apple’s fortunes faded a dozen or so years ago. We could see that it might now make sense to have some design, visualization, and animation products become more overtly usable on Macs, e.g., AutoCAD LT (or for that matter, even full AutoCAD) in Design Solutions Group and other animation, rendering, and visualization tools, e.g., the forthcoming “Newport” in the Media & Entertainment Group.
The fact that there is now the Apple “MacTel” platform should make it much easier to support these products, in addition to Autodesk’s extensive development for Windows of course.
It has been more than fifteen years since Autodesk’s largest product was available on the Mac platform (once upon a time, the UNIX OS was also common, especially for such applications as Pro/Engineer and products like it).
In addition, “Autodesk also announced the AutoCAD WS mobile application, a new free app soon to be available through Apple's App Store that will extend AutoCAD to Apple's iOS.” It doesn’t sound as though there will be a for-pay or “premium” version in the near future. In any event, WS could become an important element of a mobile strategy for the AEC and other technical markets.
For the moment, the Mac platform availability pertains only to full standalone AutoCAD, not to AutoCAD LT, its second largest product, nor to the AutoCAD-based vertical apps, such as Civil.
To put some parameters around the potential for the new version, I would note the following:
Standalone AutoCAD revenues in FY10, including new licenses, maintenance (subscriptions), and (what’s left of) upgrades were around $310 million, down 31% For the purpose of assessing unit potential, I calculate that the last five-year average of Windows-based standalone units was around 105,000 annually (it turns out that the five-year average for AutoCAD vertical apps was about the same).
- Adobe’s Mac products
- sales have typically accounted for about 35%-40% of its relevant design apps revenues in recent years, including Creative Suite, Photoshop, etc. However, for historical reasons having to do with the Adobe customer base, the evolution of the graphic arts market, and product availability (Adobe has multiple apps on the Mac, vs. just one for Autodesk for now), it seems unlikely that Autodesk’s Mac business proportion will approach Adobe’s though it should likely be largely incremental in any event.