Skip to content or navigation

Exclusive: AutoCAD’s Fateful Return to the Mac

In this exclusive feature report Autodesk talks to Architosh about their fateful return of AutoCAD to the Apple Mac platform after nearly two decades absence.

Continued from page 1

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?

Pages >

Reader Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anthony Frausto, Anthony Frausto. Anthony Frausto said: Exclusive: AutoCAD's Fateful Return to the Mac. Architosh has the complete story. […]

  2. Posted by:
    December 17, 2010 04:00 pm EST

    I can’t wait fro them to bring over REVIT. Now that would be awesome.

  3. Posted by:
    December 17, 2010 10:46 pm EST

    I am impressed! I really never warmed up to Acad and do not use it, but I have a passion for CAD on the MAC. I maintain that Mac productivity is much better. Windows has so many issues and problems that it wastes my time. After 20 years on the drafting board I bought a CAD package in 1983. It was based on a built up Apple lle. I had looked at Acad and it scared me. It looked very inefficient. No joystick or GUI.

    Today I have 27 years experience with many CAD programs on Mac & Windows. Mac wins, period. I have gone to extremes now and purchased Siemens NX Mac to be able to work efficiently on my chosen platform. I will always have a PC to use SolidWorks and integrate with the Windoze world but I naturally gravitate to my Mac as much as possible.

    I am having a discussion with Siemens NX people in the Linkedin NX User’s Group at
    about the logic of making more money (as an independent) or being more productive as a large company by simply adding a Mac to each solid modeling designer’s workstation.

    Your business may have chosen Windoze as the standard platform but an Apple Mac can be added to run Acad, NX 6 or higher with no downside. If it pencils out and makes me more money, I would add a hippopotamus to my office.

    The question I am asking is will someone (Siemens?, Autodesk?), do a benchmark test over a few weeks to put the two OS’s up against each other. The only question should be which platform supports the designer best and allows him to produce the most paying work with a given dual platform program. And how much more. The PC can be along side the Mac in this test to allow the user to have access to anything he needs in the Windoze world. I think the payback will be so good that both platforms can be afforded and used at will. I use both every day and I am shopping for a hippo.

    Merry Christmas,

    Nolton Johnson

  4. Posted by:
    December 18, 2010 01:23 pm EST

    AutoCAD is crap. Just like Microsoft AutoDESK uses their market dominance to shell out poorly designed software that forces users into corners they should stay away from. They compel the industry away from open standards. There’s a strong indication in the story that the company is also violating privacy principles to discern who among their users is running on Macs. I don’t trust that even if they deliver a credible product that they will stick with it or maintain adequate support. I don’t think Architosh should be providing free marketing for a company that has shirked the platform for so many years.

  5. Dear Emergencypicnic,

    Your views are of course welcome and appreciated at Architosh. You do raise an interesting point about privacy but I am not sure they are doing anything that Apple and Microsoft don’t already do in some form or another. When programs crash and send crash reports, they send vital info on the OS and hardware they run on. If the OS companies are doing it, not sure it is all that terrible for third-parties either. Just a thought?

    As for “providing free marketing”? We don’t provide free marketing to anyone. A feature interview does give corporate and product managers/creators a chance to tout their stuff but only in the context of genuine interest to the larger community of users. Many Mac CAD users have been wanting to see this happen for a very long time. Some PC AutoCAD users didn’t! We think the story is interesting on many levels as it provides a glimpse into background thinking, forward-looking vision and implementation details for one of the world’s largest most important software companies in the context of how it affects the Mac CAD/3D community.

  6. Congrats to the AutoCAD crowd, but as an animator for games, I still say that Autodesk treats Mac users as second class customers.
    After buying Alias out, they killed the Mac version of Motionbuilder, which despite promises from Autodesk in several forums (including their own shows no signs whatsoever of making a comeback after 3 Win-only versions.
    As a direct result of this, Autodesk’s much touted Entertainment Creation Suite is not available for Mac Users either, since such bundle includes Motionbuilder along with Mudbox, Maya et al.
    Their solution? “run it on Bootcamp”. Just don’t expect A-desk to credit the $300 that it costs to buy the copy of Vista/7/XP to Mac users.

Comments are closed.

INSIDER Xpresso keeps CAD industry professionals up-to-date on next-gen emerging technologies (emTech) that will revolutionize the worlds of AEC and manufacturing and design. As an Xpresso reader, you will hear from some of the most important voices inventing and using the very latest tech in areas such as AI, machine learning, algorithm-aided design (AAD), AR, VR, MR, 3D printing, 3D computer vision, robotics, and SmartCities technologies.

Each issue arrives in your inbox on the first Sunday of the month. Issue #1 arrived on March 3, 2019. Full archives and easy navigation for your pleasure. Enjoy! 

Sign-up for our monthly newsletter
architosh INSIDER Xpresso.

  • Architosh will never pass any of your information onto third parties.
  • For more information read our privacy policy.
  • It is easy to unsubscribe at any time. Follow the links in the newletter footer.

(Recommended. These infrequent sponsored emails help us to provide our Xpresso newsletter for free.)

INSIDER Membership

Read 3 free Feature or Analysis articles per month.

Or, subscribe now for unlimited full access to Architosh.