Earlier in the beginning of spring Architosh got a chance to discuss all things AutoCAD for Mac users, talking to AutoCAD for Mac 2013 product manager Micah Dickerson of Autodesk. We were particularly anxious to catch-up with the AutoCAD group as it has been a few years since the AutoCAD for Mac group had briefed us in detail on that group’s current and future efforts.
When news of AutoCAD for Mac 2011 broke in late 2010, Architosh got the exclusive story on why the company was making a fateful return to the Apple platform after a very long and difficult absence since the early 1990’s. (see, Architosh, “Exclusive: AutoCAD’s Fateful Return to the Mac,” 17 Dec 2010.). In this feature article we discuss briefly the future of AutoCAD on the Mac, how its users are different than those on the Windows platform and how well the product is performing in the market. That and a good bit more. So enjoy the interview.
The Interview: How AutoCAD for Mac is Doing in the Market
AFR: (Anthony Frausto-Robledo): Micah, thanks for taking the time to speak to us about AutoCAD on the Mac.
MD: (Micah Dickerson): You are very welcome. Thanks for the opportunity.
AFR: Let’s just jump right into it. AutoCAD has been on the Mac natively now for more than two years and three versions. How is AutoCAD for the Mac doing for you? And in particular are there any surprises in how the product is taking hold within the overall market? I am particularly interested to know what customer segment is this product popular in.
MD: The product in general is doing very well. It is serving a broad swath of customers in what we call the “designer market.” These users are interested in drawing tools that allow them to make accurate technical drawings for use within in a wide array of fields. We were never entirely sure where this product would go but we are quite happy with its wide adoption in general.
AFR: I thought I recalled a mention years ago that Autodesk was aware of the high numbers of industrial and product designers who were flocking back to the Mac platform and there was some recognition that AutoCAD would serve these customers as well. And you have strong modeling capabilities inside the program.
MD: Well, we are not targeting them specifically. For people who need a more technical drawing package for CAD this is certainly a very suitable solution, though it is probably not the application they would be using for industrial design itself.
AFR: Right, fair enough. Of course Autodesk has its public beta of Inventor Fusion for Mac and native Mac tools in Alias software for that kind of work.
MD: Yes, exactly.
AFR: Okay, to bring more clarity to the earlier question, where are you specifically seeing more growth? What market segments? And how is it performing?
MD: In terms of performing, it’s performing well. In fact it’s actually picking up adoption among the student population. We see tons and tons of downloads. Part of that is due to that it’s free for students. Moreover, based on our field research in academia, college students in CAD-using majors are adopting the Mac as their preferred computer of choice by something like 80 percent or greater. This means, while they may be taught or doing work on Windows machines in labs and classrooms, they go back to their dorm room or home and do their homework on a Mac.
AFR: Now I am aware of the news about AutoCAD 2014. Is AutoCAD for Mac now slipping away from the release cycle for Windows, because you have been timed with the Windows cycle for two cycles now?
MD: We are definitely going to be de-coupled from the Windows release. We cannot talk too much more about that now, but we can say that the next release is coming and it will obviously be behind the Windows release.
AFR: Now when you say “de-coupled” you mean in reference to the “release cycle” on Windows, not referring to some underlying development technology that is in common between the Mac and Windows versions, correct? We are aware that both versions are based on the same code base.
MD: That’s correct. With AutoCAD for Mac we want to be more aligned with Apple’s OS X roadmap. We want to take better advantage of their software and hardware advances. The next version is coming…but like I said, we can’t say much more about that yet.