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RM: They were people who were AutoCAD customers but they were also customers of other various Autodesk software.
AFR: How did you know they were Mac people?
RM: Autodesk has a something called CIP information. We could see from that information who was actually using AutoCAD on Mac hardware. We first targeted the Mac people and then grew out the beta program from there. It moved very quickly, reaching 5000 beta users.
AFR: Who were some of the significant beta users in your program? Can you say?
RM: We created a special Sledgehammer Gold Program, which consisted of just 26 special customers who had to use the beta in a full production setting. Each Gold Program beta user had an individual Autodesk employee devoted to that company. They had to call once a week for an hour to address the beta users’ issues. A large AutoCAD firm called Styles and Wood were one of those special beta testers. They had extensive AutoCAD seats and were very interested in the Mac as a platform. We found some very interesting Mac enthusiasts among our AutoCAD customers. Some people went out and bought brand new Macs just to run the beta on.
AFR: Some people are intense critics of you bringing AutoCAD to the Mac. They see no logic behind the move. What do you say to those who say there is no market for AutoCAD on the Mac?
RM: Well, very credible third party analysts are telling us the market for CAD on the Mac is north of $100 million per year. Secondly, the growth rate of the Apple Mac platform is itself a reason. With 33 percent year over year growth [on the Mac] it is implicit for us to be in the markets where the growth is.
AFR: You are right the Mac has grown 33 percent year over year almost every quarter for a few years now. We know from our large BIM study published this year that so strong is the interest in the Mac that customers are picking up new Apple hardware and leaving behind old programs for new ones native on the platform. And there are some very good choices for them to go to. Do you know where your AutoCAD defectors have been going?
RM: Sure, we know in general they are going to competition like Vectorworks and ArchiCAD and to Rhino and others places–even NX. A lot of customers now are making their OS platform their first choice, prior to their CAD platform. There is an increasing industrial design segment on the Mac now. There has always been a good size niche segment in architecture but we see growth in segments like product and industrial design.
AFR: Besides architecture and industrial design, what other areas do you see as strong market segments for your new AutoCAD for Mac software?
RM: People know AutoCAD is strong in AEC and manufacturing. But what they may not know is that we have a very strong market share in “other business segments” that require CAD. For example, take the ornamental iron business. There is a 3000.USD add-on software program for AutoCAD for just that. We have add-on software programs that are incredible at what they do in very niche areas, like QuiltCAD for example, or accident reconstruction or ship and naval architecture. There is a whole host of industries and we are very strong in all those industries.
AFR: AutoCAD has of course become a linga franca of the CAD world through the DWG file format. I would expect you to be strong in many “other business” segments. But in AEC the world has shifted to BIM and your company is pushing BIM with Revit–not AutoCAD.
RM: Yes, but even in a BIM-centric workflow AutoCAD is important. We ship AutoCAD in every Revit box.
AFR: How are third-parties look at this?