Thoughts On CAD Software Pricing

Today I got a couple of interesting comments on my post titled “AutoCAD LT Price Rising By 20%“. Kevin Quigley from the UK wrote:

“Interesting. In the UK Autocad LT costs £1050 plus £200 a year subscription. Yes you did read that right. £1050 = $1679, so nearly 3 x the price it will be in India after the increase… [snip]… I already knew we in the UK were getting screwed compared to the USA pricing – I wasn’t aware we were getting totally shafted compared to everybody else as well.”

To which Hua-Wang from China replied:

“You can buy LT licenses from here in China, install it on computers in China, and use remote login, VNC etc. from UK and access it from there. There are companies that will host/run/maintain 24×7 the computers for you in China. You just ask for it. Simple arbitrage.”

While the very idea of doing something like this sounds bat-shit crazy, one cannot help but wonder if this doesn’t bear similarity to CAD on the Cloud. After all CAD on the Cloud involves running software off someone else’s computer, right? In fact, Russian MCAD software vendor ASCON offers their customers KOMPAS-3D on the Cloud in precisely this manner (see “CAD On The Cloud to Become A Reality With KOMPAS-3D“).

But here is the thing. The Autodesk EULA does not allow this kind of ingenious usage. It specifically does not allow users

  • to provide or make available any features or functionality of the Autodesk Materials to any person or entity (other than to and for Licensee itself for the purpose specified in the applicable License Type), whether or not over a network and whether or not on a hosted basis
  • to Install or Access or allow the Installation of or Access to the Autodesk Materials over the Internet or other non-local network, including, without limitation, use in connection with a wide area network (WAN), virtual private network (VPN), virtualization, Web hosting, time-sharing, service bureau, software as a service, cloud or other service or technology.

But this does raise an important question. When the CAD vendors do take CAD to the Cloud, will they continue with these vastly different prices for different countries? Will the software be running off different servers for different countries? Currently, CAD vendors blame their resellers for the need to have varied pricing. Will they continue to use that excuse when CAD moves to the Cloud?

At SYCODE we have just one set of prices for our products. An Autodesk customer in the UK may pay three times as much for a license of AutoCAD than his counterpart in India. But both will pay exactly the same amount if they purchase a SYCODE AutoCAD plug-in. I just feel that’s the way it ought to be.