Earlier this fall I had a chance to talk to Micah Dickerson, product manager at Autodesk for the AutoCAD for Mac product line. As usual, Mr. Dickerson had many interesting things to talk about, as the company was preparing for its release and announcement of AutoCAD for Mac 2015. You can read the details at the MORE link below.
In this feature Micah Dickerson explains to Architosh the rationale for the latest features in AutoCAD for Mac 2015 and its sibling version LT for Mac 2015. We learn why Autodesk considers this release the biggest and most important release since the product’s debut back on the Mac platform in 2010.
Of particular importance, Mr. Dickerson also explains interesting details about who is using the Mac version of AutoCAD—a continuation of a discussion we have been having with the company since our earliest talks. Why is this question about who is using the Mac version of AutoCAD so important? Well, two reasons. Firstly, it demonstrates the degree to which Autodesk is willing to take risks in the pursuit of new markets. Secondly, and just as important, it cancels out naysayers—some of them CAD journalists—who believe Autodesk’s interest in the Mac CAD market is another sign of undisciplined focus and potential folly.¹ And moreover, that the Mac CAD market is already won by its existing two large incumbents.
This is a Growth Story
While it may surprise some, Autodesk’s Micah Dickerson tells us that his product line is seeing lots of growth—just not in areas that some might imagine. And to be sure, yes, some of it is because Apple is actually doing as well, with the Mac, as some of its rivals don’t want you to believe.
“We have seen significant growth,” states Dickerson, “because the Mac has now grown to 80 million active users.” He adds, “estimates we’ve seen for the CAD market on Mac range anywhere from 1 to 3 percent of total Mac users.” Importantly, as we will learn in a moment, CAD users today are coming into the market from parts of industries where they didn’t really exist before. And believe it or not, some people are still making transitions from analog methodology to digital processes.
Just one percent of 10 million new Mac users is 100,000 new CAD users. Apple’s Mac installed base is aggregating steadily, the company recently broke a quarterly Mac shipment record with 5.5 million units shipped. We could debate and go over all this math six ways to Sunday but the bottom line is still the same—Mac share is rising, Mac CAD is growing, and Autodesk is intent on establishing a firm beachhead in this market, even if at the far end of the beach.
Dickerson also cited Apple’s latest partnership with IBM as more evidence of interest and growth in enterprise industries, not just for iOS but for the Mac too.
AEC and the Broad Base
While recently Architosh has been touching on cases of renewed interest in the Mac in the MCAD market—especially product design—Dickerson reiterated that it is non-MCAD markets, and other areas, where they are presently finding more success for AutoCAD on Mac. “Certainly we are seeing some interest there but we’re finding that AEC folks tend to be the biggest fans,” states Dickerson. Yet it’s not directly success with architecture firms, though there is certainly some penetration in that segment of the AEC market.
Dickerson adds, “the Mac product has a really broad user base. There is not a single group that dominates the majority of its success. I will say, though, that AutoCAD for Mac seems to be pretty popular among large retailers for store design and a variety of other uses.”
Dickerson went onto explain that AutoCAD for Mac has gone on to capture a high percentage of the retail mall store design market. Most of the major retail brands that people are familiar with in malls around the world—many of those companies—it’s common for them to have ‘in-house’ store design professionals who often work in conjunction with external designers and architects. He explained that ‘in-house’ corporate designers do a lot of continuous evolving of layouts and look-and-feel work continuously throughout the year.
“In a furnishings retailer case they do this work on the computers in the stores themselves,” says Dickerson. “We asked the in-store designers why they use Macs…and the answer was ‘they just look really good in our stores,’ ” he adds. Dickerson continued to say that in-house corporate designers use AutoCAD on Mac to design anything from seasonal display items to complete store layouts. There is often a lot of back-and-forth between these groups and outside consultants.
next page: The Biggest Update Since Coming Back