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Architosh Talks to solidThinking about the Mac and industrial design

In this interview, Architosh speaks with both Robert (Bob) Little and Alex Mazzardo about Altair’s decision to buy solidThinking and what it means for the company, how solidThinking will expand its footprint in the United States, and why solidThinking should be the preferred choice of industrial designers everywhere.

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Bob: We strongly believe there is a trend going on that is very favorable to Apple. We see a stronger positioning of the Mac within the product development and industrial design community. 

AFR: Are there specific sectors or industries you see this more?

Alex: We see it at the top, at the top level of industrial design institutions where there is a very strong propensity toward Apple and the Mac. We have been doing a lot of visiting of top design schools and universities and you can see it…students in colleges are very much aligned with Mac, they identify with the brand and its emphasis on innovation and design. 

Bob: We get into a lot of mixed environments where Macs are about one third of the mix. These tend to be areas like furniture design, packaging, jewelry design and electronics. In these environments the Mac is already strong among many professionals, so seeing solidThinking on the Mac is a selling point for the product. It gives product and industrial designers a chance to do their main work on the platform they prefer. 

AFR: So you would say that supporting the Mac, in addition to Windows gives solidThinking a competitive advantage?

Bob: Yes. It is key to understand that this is one demographic where Apple is seen very strongly. Apple is an remarkably innovative company…and so industrial designers hold that company in extremely high regard.

AFR: The location and proximity to Detroit…How does that factor into solidThinking’s success in the United States?

Bob: Detroit has no real importance to solidThinking’s success in the US market. It is more a historical thing, it happens to be near where Altair’s headquarters are. The location of solidThinking software engineers are now in two places: Troy, Michigan and Vicenza, Italy. Going forward the location of future software engineers will likely reflect the marketplace for solidThinking globally. 

AFR: My feeling is that when one thinks of industrial design software in the US one thinks of products like SolidWorks and AliasStudio…and in regards to the Mac Ashlar Vellum’s Cobalt. What will you guys do to help spread the word about solidThinking in the United States?

Bob: Firstly, we are talking to publications like yours in the US so we can tell our story. Secondly, we are going around the US and meeting with the top industrial design schools where we are finding good reception by students and professors. In the colleges students are very interested in Apple and its products and see the company as the design leader or trend setter, so they get excited about our product because it works on their favorite computer, the Mac

AFR: But who would you say are your competitors?

Alex: Without naming names our competitors are all those products which are using NURBS for modeling. Often today we find users still using tools that are best suited for doing animation or general 3D tools…and of course 2D tools. solidThinking was created specifically for the industrial designer. 

AFR: You guys seem to have a good relationship with SolidWorks. Can you talk about that? Is that a strategic alliance of some sort? 

Bob: No, we do not have an alliance but we are part of the SolidWorks Solutions Partners program. This is a company we admire, who has a culture similar to our own in respect to innovation and serving the customer and we have a lot of respect for them. 

What we find is that our top resellers and partners are also SolidWorks folks serving a lot of the same customers. 

Alex: We do not compete with the CAD vendors, we cooperate with them through file exchange formats and the sharing of data. solidThinking is a perfect solution for product designers who need to create effectively and work with product engineers as part of the product development process. 

AFR: Let’s switch to Macworld. Why Macworld and what are your expectations for the show? 

Bob: Macworld is the largest show for reaching Mac users and it is also a designers show. We are very excited to show the Mac community solidThinking. We also plan to reach out to the product design and academic community in the Bay area during that time. 

AFR: Speaking of community, what are some of the things solidThinking is doing to address community building on the Internet specifically. For example, Google has its own channel on YouTube with SketchUp movies for instruction. 

Alex: We are always paying attention to our user community and they are big part of us and how we think and move the product forward. We believe movies are very useful and believe this is an important part of product education. We have a product channel on YouTube as well with movies of solidThinking in action. 

AFR: Alex and Bob, thanks for speaking with Architosh about solidThinking and I wish you the best for your first Macworld Expo coming up next month. Will see you there. Thanks.

Bob and Alex: Thank you.

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