Some Thoughts On AutoCAD For Mac Pricing

The first time I head the term “zero x upgrade” was while doing the AutoCAD for Mac interview. At that time I knew that the term was going to create confusion. Autodesk defines a zero x upgrade as an “upgrade without changing the release”, which is an oxymoron. Personally, I don’t like the term. It gives you the impression that you are paying money for nothing new. And now Autodesk has started using the term “upgrade” to signify a move from AutoCAD 2011 for Windows to AutoCAD 2011 for Mac.

A couple of readers of my post titled “AutoCAD For Mac New Seat Rebate Promotion” left some interesting comments. Chris Wade wrote:

“I think they need to rethink the licensing, I think that if you have a network license, it should work no matter what platform is being used (as long as there are available licenses to use)”.

Kevin Quigley called making customers “upgrade” to a different platform daft. He went on to say:

“A lot of Mac CAD vendors allow a common license on the same machine. For example, the license is for the application – regardless of platform – Mac or Windows. This means you can run natively in OSX and Windows on the same machine under parallels or bootcamp, or even install and use on different machines – eg – PC at work, Macbook as a laptop.”

Yes, I agree. This is the way it should be. But there is something worth mentioning about the reason why Autodesk may be locking the AutoCAD license to the OS and not to the machine. AutoCAD was taken apart and portions rewritten for the Mac, some completely. This is unlike other Mac CAD vendors whose software was developed and maintained for both OS’s from the start. For them, the cost of Mac development was factored into the price of the product right from the beginning. In the case of AutoCAD for Mac, this cost is completely new. And someone has to pay  for it. That’s the way a software business works.

Autodesk spending all that money creating a Mac version of AutoCAD and then giving it away for free to existing AutoCAD for Windows customers really does not make much business sense to me. Especially since anyone with a Mac wanting to use AutoCAD was already using it using Bootcamp or Parallels. So from where would Autodesk recover the Mac development cost? I know that is Autodesk’s problem, not the customer’s. The customer simply needs a software product that he can use on a machine. Which OS really does not matter. But that is not the way Autodesk looks at it. And being a software developer myself, I can understand why.

I am not saying that as a customer I would love the fact that I need to give up my AutoCAD  for Windows license if I want to move to the Mac version, let alone pay a “nominal fee” for it. Especially since AutoCAD for Mac has a third of the commands and a bunch of features missing. Neither will I want to pay full price for a second license of the same version of AutoCAD running on the same machine but on a different OS. I am simply saying that I can see why Autodesk maybe doing this.

Of course, the big company that Autodesk is, one would think that they maybe able to take the hit for the sake of getting AutoCAD for Mac into the work flow of people and then reap the benefits later on. I guess, if they could do that, they would have. I also believe Autodesk should have waited a little longer and come up with a more complete product, since they have decided to charge full price for it. Something tells me they actually wanted to do that. But then Dassault Systemes came in the way and released DraftSight for Mac. And as you all know, the thing with software is once you use it and get used to it, you need a very good reason to switch. Paying $4000 to replace a free product is not a very good reason, especially if the free product has been doing your job for you pretty well.