Ever since AutoCAD began to include 3D and other facilities oriented more toward model building than production drafting, there had been an ongoing low-level controversy over how Autodesk should proceed in broadening its coverage of the CAD/CAM market: develop new products with links to AutoCAD, or simply grow AutoCAD into an integrated tool which encompassed high-end modeling as well as drafting and detailing?
This paper, written in early 1990 by then-V.P. of Technology Ron McElhaney, describes the CAD/CAM market, AutoCAD's place within it, the difference beween Autodesk and the traditional high-end vendors, and the opportunities in the newly emerging field of Mechanical Design Automation. Ron suggests a course of action to allow Autodesk to position a new product in this domain just as AutoCAD had succeeded in the drafting sector.
by Ron McElhaney
March 15, 1990
AutoCAD has a leadership position in the desktop CAD software market. The reasons for this are many, but include the fact that Autodesk sells useful products to a customer base whose needs it fully understands, and with whom it has built a deep and lasting relationship. We are now beginning to see increased competition from the ``high-end'' turnkey vendors. In fact, we are now seeing them begin to adopt some of our own successful business practices. The use of dealers, the stress of open architecture, and the encouragement of third-party developers are serious competitive responses which should convince us that these vendors understand the importance of beating us in the open market. What must Autodesk do to guarantee that it will be Autodesk which survives the inevitable high-speed collision, and not Intergraph or Prime? More importantly, if we succeed in displacing companies such as Intergraph, will we do it at the cost of estranging those very customers who have been responsible for our great success?
Editor: John Walker