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Autodesk discovers new consumer market via iOS apps

post #1 of 20
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Thanks to Apple's iOS App Store, Autodesk has attracted more new customers than it has ever had across its previous 29 years in business, transforming the company and causing it to launch a new consumers products division.

A profile of Autodesk's shift toward consumers, published by MIT's Technology Review, highlights how the company's experimental SketchBook for iPhone and iPad has given the company, best known for its professional, high end AutoCAD software, an entirely new market.

In 2008, Autodesk was developing SketchBook as a consumer product for PCs, but the product didn't attract much attention. Chris Cheung and Thomas Heermann, two middle managers, began exploring the idea of porting the paint and sketch app to the new iPhone App Store.



After launching the $2 iPhone app in September of 2008, the pair hoped for 100,000 downloads over the next year. Instead, they hit a million downloads in 50 days. The company released a $5 iPad version that launched alongside the tablet in April 2010. A free SketchBook Express version is also available.

Now a top ranked App Store vendor, Autodesk has launched a consumer products division led by Heermann, who says "it's almost like having the company shape up and get ready for the future."

After roughly 7 million app downloads, Autodesk's SketchBook and the estimated $15 million in revenue the app has generated isn't rivaling the company's high end software revenues that total $2 billion.

However, the company's chief executive Carl Bass states, "it's the best advertising we've had in years."
post #2 of 20
This is a good example of how talented people who apply themselves can become very rich and there fore continue to prosper. And it was all because of a great partnership with Apple. Good job guys.
An Apple man since 1977
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An Apple man since 1977
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post #3 of 20
All very good, Sketchbook is a great product but when will they release AutoCad LT for Mac outwith USA?
It was announced on 16th August and released in the App Store, however if you live outside America you cannot download this software.
Autodesk's official response is 'continuing to evaluate rolling the product out globally' however this may be code for we want to sell it for more outside the USA than the App Store allows us to do.
Come on Autodesk you need to value the customers that you have in other countries.
post #4 of 20
I was glad to see AutoCad LT released in the Mac App store. I purchased it the second I knew about it. It is nice not having to use the Winblows version inside a VM.

Maybe AutoDesk will get back in the good graces of this Mac user.
Hard-Core.
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Hard-Core.
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post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

This is a good example of how talented people who apply themselves can become very rich and there fore continue to prosper. And it was all because of a great partnership with Apple. Good job guys.

This type of work should be rewarded. I hope those working on this project got a nice bonus. I think this is more a case of you gotta take a few chances and not compromise on design to be successful. Either that or be a patent troll... or be in the top 1% and sit around and do nothing...
post #6 of 20
I wish they would bring the rest of their professional grade software to OS X.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Object-X View Post

I wish they would bring the rest of their professional grade software to OS X.

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet...&siteID=123112
post #8 of 20
Sketchbook Pro Express for the Mac is great, but pricing it at $60 is a bit much.
They need to pay attention to Apple and price it more like the iWork apps. I'm can guarantee them that if they priced it at $30 they would more than double their profits. At $15 they would saturate the market. $5 or $10 upgrades every 2-3 years (for major upgrades) would keep them in clover. Let's face it, a 30% cut to Apple for managing retail and distribution and transaction, no physical product costs. and Autodesk can concentrate on what they do bestcreating useful software.
They could still keep the bleeding edge software priced higher for pros, but even there they can bring the price down significantly. At lower prices, pro shops would put the pro apps on more computers and new customers would move up to pro appsartists, small shops, students, etc. With the Make movement, more and more people are exposed to CAD, etc. They can also maintain a healthy business selling tech support subscriptions, workshops, teaching materials, templates, textures, lighting setups, etc.

General access to these tools would put the nail in the coffin the myth of the so called "job creators" in the "1%!" People with talent rather than people with capital would be exposed as the real "job creators" in America.
post #9 of 20
What is with all this 1% BS here? A successful 3-person architecture firm would put the owner in the 1% category easily. A less successful firm with 4-5 architects would easily make it.

As it relates to the cost of the tool for a junior architect making $35-50k, it is roughly commensurate with what an electrician or plumber might need. High, but not out of reach.

The pricing for much of Autodesk's software is higher than it should be, and they would do well to lower the cost to reach a wider audience of legal users... But that is a very different issue.
post #10 of 20
Great app. It's part of the Android's Christmas promotion. It's one of the apps selling for ten cents for ten days.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

What is with all this 1% BS here? A successful 3-person architecture firm would put the owner in the 1% category easily. A less successful firm with 4-5 architects would easily make it.

As it relates to the cost of the tool for a junior architect making $35-50k, it is roughly commensurate with what an electrician or plumber might need. High, but not out of reach.

The pricing for much of Autodesk's software is higher than it should be, and they would do well to lower the cost to reach a wider audience of legal users... But that is a very different issue.

I dont think the owner of every less successful 4-5 person firm is in the 1%, or its a really big 1%
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

What is with all this 1% BS here? A successful 3-person architecture firm would put the owner in the 1% category easily. A less successful firm with 4-5 architects would easily make it.

As it relates to the cost of the tool for a junior architect making $35-50k, it is roughly commensurate with what an electrician or plumber might need. High, but not out of reach.

The pricing for much of Autodesk's software is higher than it should be, and they would do well to lower the cost to reach a wider audience of legal users... But that is a very different issue.

Typical 99%-er thinking.
Dude, the head of a 10 person firm isn't 1%
Horatio Alger Americans are SO delusional, and that's what the oligarchy depends on.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryW View Post

All very good, Sketchbook is a great product but when will they release AutoCad LT for Mac outwith USA?
It was announced on 16th August and released in the App Store, however if you live outside America you cannot download this software.
Autodesk's official response is 'continuing to evaluate rolling the product out globally' however this may be code for we want to sell it for more outside the USA than the App Store allows us to do.
Come on Autodesk you need to value the customers that you have in other countries.

In relative terms AutoDesk is a small company. As such they have to carefully handle how the roll out products internationally.
post #14 of 20
I would like to see a CAD app that doesn't rely on a lot of typing. Yes I now the incumbents would disagree but there are things where a CAD app is good to use but they are so difficult for the average user.

Now a touch screen app on an iPad would be awesome so you could make changes to existing drawings which I believe AutoDesk already have created but what about creating new designs?
post #15 of 20
Some of the iOS apps are the best stuff out of autodesk since hmmm autocad.

Perhaps that is why they are selling cent volume
you only have freedom in choice when you know you have no choice
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you only have freedom in choice when you know you have no choice
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post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Typical 99%-er thinking.
Dude, the head of a 10 person firm isn't 1%
Horatio Alger Americans are SO delusional, and that's what the oligarchy depends on.

1% income bracket is $343,927 annually in 2009.

Here's the math:
  • Principal Architect/Owner - $165/hour billing rate, 70% billable = $240k gross billings, $120k draw, $100k overhead = $20k net profit
  • Job Captain - $135/hour, 100% billable = $280k gross billings, $85k salary, $85k overhead = $85k profit.
  • Drafter (x2) - $75/hour, 100% billable = $312k gross billings, 2x$52k salary, 2x$52k overhead = $104k profit.

Total earnings for the principal architect = $120k draw + $20k + $85k + $104k = $329k. If the owner is actually billable for 2080 hours a year (not that hard), that is an extra $100k income, although it is likely offset by an office manager. For a passive owner, hitting 1% would require about $1.6MM in billings, which is a bigger barrier.

Top 1% really doesn't mean much when you are a reasonably successful small business owner. Much of that sample is really an illusion, since you need to re-invest in your business, but get taxed on that each year independent of if you keep the money in or go to Monte Carlo. When you factor in stock market gains for someone who has built up a reasonable nest-egg (and invested it in AAPL), an extra $100k in capital gains isn't that hard to do.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

This is a good example of how talented people who apply themselves can become very rich and there fore continue to prosper. And it was all because of a great partnership with Apple. Good job guys.

$15m is kind of a drop in the bucket compared to $2b though and it highlights that the mobile App Stores are very much high volume low profit affairs.

The comment about it being good marketing seemed quite an apt description of how publishers use the App Store. Like one big giant links page where they place an advert to get access to a 250 million exclusive audience.

It's good that they actually developed a useful app in this case but developers still hold back from publishing high value, highly useful software.

Also, I love how two middle managers are happy taking the credit for 'exploring the idea' of porting the app.
post #18 of 20
... this somehow resulted in 3d Studio Max for OS X, I could dance naked around a bonfire of my remaining Windows boxes! Seriously, that's the *last* program left (and Bootcamp just doesn't cut it) I use that is PC-only. Step up Autodesk!
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by darrynlowe View Post

I would like to see a CAD app that doesn't rely on a lot of typing. Yes I now the incumbents would disagree but there are things where a CAD app is good to use but they are so difficult for the average user.

Now a touch screen app on an iPad would be awesome so you could make changes to existing drawings which I believe AutoDesk already have created but what about creating new designs?

Um... no offense, but you are never going to get a real CAD program that doesn't rely on typing. CAD is about precision and thus if nothing else you are going to have to type dimensions to a precision that would be unwieldy if not downright impossible to do with simple graphical interfaces.

As for being difficult for the average user, well, yes it likely is. However, it is a professional tool, and as with nearly any professional tool it isn't intended to serve the average user. This is like complaining that operating a bulldozer is difficult for the average user.

Concerning CAD-like apps for the iPad that will allow you to create drawings from scratch. There are some. I have not used them and cannot tell you if any of them are worthwhile, but look up GraphPad (and its pro version), FingerCAD HD, and cadTouch R3. It seems like I remember seeing one other, but I can't remember its name or find it with a quick search. I am sure that there are others out there and likely to be more coming. Also, AutoCAD WS isn't terrible for doing drawings from scratch.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mknopp View Post

Um... no offense, but you are never going to get a real CAD program that doesn't rely on typing. CAD is about precision and thus if nothing else you are going to have to type dimensions to a precision that would be unwieldy if not downright impossible to do with simple graphical interfaces.

As for being difficult for the average user, well, yes it likely is. However, it is a professional tool, and as with nearly any professional tool it isn't intended to serve the average user. This is like complaining that operating a bulldozer is difficult for the average user.

Concerning CAD-like apps for the iPad that will allow you to create drawings from scratch. There are some. I have not used them and cannot tell you if any of them are worthwhile, but look up GraphPad (and its pro version), FingerCAD HD, and cadTouch R3. It seems like I remember seeing one other, but I can't remember its name or find it with a quick search. I am sure that there are others out there and likely to be more coming. Also, AutoCAD WS isn't terrible for doing drawings from scratch.

I kind of disagree. Sometimes you want to create a quick drawing then make it precise later on. CAD is too complex for this at the moment because you have to learn a tonne of commands just to draw a line. Why not have the ability to quickly create using the mouse then have an inspector window to make it more precise. Therefore my idea for the iPad app begins to have merit.

CAD doesn't have to be solely for the professionals just like making music and movies don't have to be now. Why? Because the tools are so much simpler these days while still retaining a large degree of power. For example FCPX or even little old GarageBand. I've used Sweet Home 3d for a while and it's a great, simple to use product but it is limited in what it can do. AutoCAD would be better but it's cost and complexity make it not worthwhile for many.

The two areas where software is more complex than it needs to be is accounting and CAD applications. There is no reason for it other than both don't know decent UI design.

Also AutoCAD WS doesn't allow you to create new drawings only view and edit existing ones.
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