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Mac in CAD getting big: Grabowski riding every wave

Grabowski is writing more and more about the Mac these days. But what does it mean? Is CAD on the Mac coming back stronger than ever or is it just a passing fad?

Today I thought I’d write a post about a CAD industry colleague, and a veteran one at that. I’m talking about Ralph Grabowski over at WorldCADAccess, his blog on all things CAD and technology. I’ve met Ralph at least once and we talked briefly. It was a pleasant chat and he seems like a nice enough guy. Ralph is certainly someone who sees the world of technology differently than I–and that’s okay, we need diversity of views.

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On the Mac

Ralph has never minced words about not liking Apple and its leader Steve Jobs. And for that he is like many. But Ralph as of late has been riding the Mac waves quite a bit and that alone suggests things are changing. Of course some of this is because Apple dominates the IT media so heavily now that you simply cannot exist as a technology writer and not mention them. And when others like you (and no, that would not be me…) typically also resist mentioning Apple but suddenly find themselves doing so with increased velocity you simply have no choice.

So at this point in time Ralph Grabowski simply has no choice on the Mac. The Mac matters now, period and his writings are reflecting that.

Mac Hype

Some of Ralph’s fans will want to argue my view and say, no they (Apple/Mac) don’t yet truly matter. It’s still all hype! But they do if you can’t escape arguing or talking about them! And, no, this is not celebrity hype, like talking about Paris Hilton. If it is hype it’s more like Windows Vista hype. The kind of hype that lands on the ground and shakes it a good bit, the kind that very few can truly avoid the impact of.

I have another proposal for Apple if we want to contend that the Mac in CAD, or in enterprise in general, is more hype than reality…and that is its comparison to the green movement and global warming. For some, with particular political leanings, global warming and the whole sustainability movement is more hype than reality…more fad than fact.

When numbers, especially when they are small, are correlated to a change event the decision to believe they are actually responsible or indicative of the reality of that event is often highly debated and politically charged.

Take the illegal alien issue in the US. Though their numbers are still relatively small (estimated at 7-20 million) some will argue that those 6 percent illegals represent a dramatic change, while others will acknowledge while there exist a problem it isn’t significant like the other group makes it out to be. So who is right? Does dramatic growth matter when we are still talking about single digital representation or not?

Common sense and a lot of chatter with others has taught me that the answer depends entirely on what people want for themselves and want to believe. For those in the CAD industry who see the Mac as some foreigner that doesn’t speak their language that single digit and growing market percentage isn’t representative of a notable change in the IT climate but rather a temporary fad or response to hype in the marketplace.

Yes, Autodesk has produced a native version of AutoCAD for the Mac, and yes there exist at least 5000 who say they want SolidWorks on the Mac, but to so many CAD veterans in this industry–like Grabowski–how you view Apple and the Mac’s growth is entirely similar to how you view similar trends based on growing but yet still modest or even nascent numbers. In other words, you pick what you want to believe based on how it suits you.

The Mac at Grabowski

Ralph doesn’t get was is so G-r-r-eat about Macs yet! But it doesn’t matter if he gets or doesn’t get it, if he likes and champions them, or if he criticizes them until the cows come home. Like it or not Macs are here! And more and more people are preferring them, especially younger generations. Additionally, as was so convincingly described in Clayton Christensen’s best-selling book The Innovator’s Dilemma, companies that solely look to just serving the needs of their current customers risk missing macro trends that will eventually leave them out in the cold.

Like others, Grabowski is talking about the Mac a lot lately, and with increasing velocity. Back in September he wrote a post questioning where the market is for AutoCAD on the Mac. At this point he must have already been writing a book on AutoCAD for the Mac (which is on sale already) but we’ll skip past that tidbit for now. His blog post on not getting what’s so great about Macs has gotten a lot of attention for sure, both in defense of Ralph and against his opinions.

A post about the 5000 petitions for SolidWorks on the Mac was also of interest last year. His post about options and helping people do CAD on the Mac this summer was also of note. This post was titled “Experiencing CAD on the Mac.”

The bottom line is Grabowski is writing a heck of a lot about the Mac lately, and with increasing frequency and intensity. All of which, of course, is good for the Mac. I say this because Ralph Grabowski has weight in this industry. People respect his views and read his blog and site regularly. If he is giving new attention to Apple and Jobs, it means things are changing, period. Where they are changing can be debated, but I am pretty sure the trending is good for the Mac in CAD, with or without Grabowski’s platform blessings!