“We like to think we are clear,” said Fielder Hiss, Vice President Director of Product Management at SolidWorks, “but sometimes maybe we are not.” Mr. Hiss and I had a phone call yesterday to clarify future directions with respect to ours and other reports about SolidWorks and the Mac.
At SolidWorks World 2010 what as shown was what Fielder Hiss called “technology components” or pieces of software that are demonstrating the technology that SolidWorks is developing in its labs. “They are not products or future products,” said Hiss. Those components were shown to demonstrate how SolidWorks is trying understand and solve customer problems…by looking at “what is core to what customers are really trying to do.” Specifically in terms of the Mac or what was shown with the iMac at SolidWorks World was technology components which leverage the cloud or cloud-based computing.
Clarifying the Mac
What people saw off the Mac was being run from a cloud server. It was running a design tool that “does not have a name” according to Hiss. “We are trying to find the best way to deliver solutions when the cloud becomes a common solution for our customers and the industry.”
“The component technology we are developing in the labs is future oriented.” said Hiss. “We are architecting these components in a way where we can deliver not just cloud-based solutions but deliver to native platforms if and when the market needs that.” These component technologies according to Hiss are 3-5 years off before they become products that ship. “We do not have clear plans today to deliver our flagship product (SolidWorks) to the Mac.” he said.
Fielder Hiss noted that the Mac is a in-demand item with their customers, especially in the home. “I’m a Mac user at home to be honest,” he said, “there is a lot more excitement about the Mac out there in the community.”
The Future is Flexibility
For SolidWorks the future is about being flexible. Mr. Hiss gave a wonderful example of a typical dad working on a product and rushing off to see his daughter’s soccer game late in the afternoon, then returning to his design later in the evening from home (possibly from a Mac) to continue further work. The future is about being flexible, about having options for how you can access information from different devices from anywhere in the world through the Internet. The cloud-based technologies SolidWorks showed at SolidWorks World are aimed at meeting that kind of flexibility.
As for native versions of SolidWorks? The company is officially saying there is no commitment to ship a native Mac version of its flagship SolidWorks application. What was said on stage and to other press was that they are studying concepts for native Mac software–thus some of the confusion.