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Exclusive Interview: Carl Bass talks to Architosh about Apple in the CAD/3D industries

This is the first article in our 2011 State of Apple in CAD/3D Industries, special series. Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, talks to Architosh about his company, its understanding of the growing Mac market and the role of iOS devices like iPads in fields like architecture and engineering and how Autodesk will respond to changes in the market.

As part of our special series on the state of the Mac and iOS in the CAD and 3D industries, we had the pleasure to speak with five CEO’s of key companies in these industries. Carl Bass spent a bit more time with us and we are delighted to share his observations with readers.


As many regular Architosh readers may be aware now, Autodesk has emerged as a major provider of Mac software tools for architects, designers and visualization professionals. In a string of acquisitions going back several years and in brand new code bases targeting both Mac and iOS, Autodesk has fast become one of Apple’s key software providers for professional and technical creative markets.

In this special interview Autodesk’s chief executive officer talks about the changing role the Mac and Apple are playing in CAD and 3D industries–those same industries that his company is largely responsible for serving and shaping. He also talks about iOS,  the iPad in particular and the nature of cloud computing.

The Interview

AFR: (Anthony Frausto-Robledo): The Mac and Apple in general have been exploding in growth over the past few years. Can you talk about what you see in the market and how this is affecting Autodesk?

(CB): (Carl Bass): It is highly desirable by a number of our customers, particularly in some specific segments, to want to work on Macs. One is architects, two is industrial designers and the third are creative digital artists. In all three of those markets we’ve made most of our products available on the Mac–not all, but most. I’d like to get more products there [on the Mac platform]. It is really all driven by what our customers want and they have spoken pretty loudly. They want to work on the Mac.

AFR: So that explains the markets and the demands. Can you talk about synergies between Apple’s technologies and maybe Autodesk’s technologies…and what that can do for your products in terms of differentiating them in the market place?

CB: In terms of synergies between them and us, going forward, it is with some of the new applications we are building for the iOS devices.  So, when you look at the tablets and the phones, for example. And there are two aspects that are really appealing to our customers. One is the sense of being able to take their data anywhere…because it has always been an issue with architects, engineers and designers–how do I take my work out of the office? And the second thing is the ability to use their data and design work with newer interfaces like Multi-touch. And we’ve built a number of applications to respond to that.  One is SketchBook Pro and the other AutoCAD WS. One is a true CAD application and the other an inking illustration application.  And both are incredibly popular and one of the things that sets them apart is the Multi-touch and the unique UI they employ.

AFR: Right, so iOS and the Multi-touch in particular. Things that Apple might bring to the table you are keen to take advantage of.

next page: Bass discusses acquisitions and cloud computing

Pages >

Reader Comments

  1. Posted by:
    August 11, 2011 11:45 pm EDT

    So, why didn’t you as about Revit coming to the Mac or maybe making it run entirely in the browser like Solidworks is moving toward. It is just more loving the Mac but keeping the good stuff on the PC only.

  2. We didn’t ask about Revit or specific Autodesk app questions because this interview was one of several addressing higher level issues. That was our chosen focus, which was overall state of affairs of Apple in CAD/3D. We understand your perspective though and appreciate it and your comment is valid.

    By the way, just because we didn’t publish doesn’t mean we didn’t ask. You are making assumptions that may be completely wrong. In many cases we may ask and may even get answers but they are “off the record” or use our judgement about what to share that may be sensitive.

  3. UTC,

    I will add that we approached five CEOs with more or less the same batch of questions to help us coax out this series of articles. Bass’s interview got a little more detailed because we held it on the phone. And it had a life of its own. We thought it made for an engaging read and we think his comments are super interesting and informative, sans comments about Revit.

  4. Posted by:
    August 16, 2011 04:06 pm EDT

    Mixed feelings… For Apple it might be good if Autodesk wouid succeed. For architects – not so sure! (For CAD/BIM-operators and allied con artists: absolutely, definitely so.)

  5. Not sure where you are going with the con artists comment about CAD/BIM operators…like architects. Perhaps you can elaborate on your mixed feelings comment.

  6. […] Exclusive Interview: Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, talks to Architosh about Apple in the CAD/3D indust…. We have had more than six million downloads of SketchBook mobile. We’ve had almost two million downloads of AutodCAD WS in a fraction of the time SketchBook has been available. Even things like TinkerBox…we’ve had over a million downloads of that. So I think when you look at the numbers they speak for themselves. It shows you just how popular and compelling those devices are. […]

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