Will Autodesk's Subscription-Only Work Out?

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For them? For you?

The subscription-only (for new licenses) begins February 1st, 2016.

Here’s what I’m working on…

As you may know, last February Autodesk announced that it will be going subscription-only on February 2016, beginning subscriptions in September 2013. The majority of their desktop software is already available as pay-as-you-go. Notice that Fusion 360 is outside of that. In May, they quietly simplified Fusion 360 pricing, changing from a tiered subscription offering to a flat monthly/yearly subscription.

In May 2013, Adobe set the stage for subscription only pricing, rolling ALL of their software into subscription options. They now have different plans based on use, but their primary plan is the $50/mth subscription for access to all of their apps.

Yesterday, however, Autodesk posted a loss. It was due to a large tax bill they got slapped with, wrapping up the last three years of deferred tax assets.

It’s now looking at a drop in revenue, even though subscriptions are going up. Same thing happened to Adobe a year or so after they went subscription only.

Adobe has turned around though, posting record revenue this year.

The contrast between the two is interesting though, as Adobe turns to offering more plans and Autodesk seems to be struggling with simplifying a complex subscription model.

Here’s how Autodesk presents their subscription offering and here’s how Adobe presents their subscription offering.

In the meantime, Onshape is starting with a freemium approach.

uh,mm I get Adobe CC for $30… I think it will definitely work long term! Subscription Only approach opens a lot of doors for potential customers. Myself included, as a hobbyist, I only dreamed of owning Photoshop, Illustrator, and In Design. When Adobe CC came out I wet my pants a little bit and have been on and off since then, it would’ve been unjustifiable for me to ever get it otherwise. The same is becoming true now for either Fusion or Onshape, SW is unjustifiable since I’m not a contractor, I just want it for the occasional inspirational project. For medium/small business it will be easier to manage and justify since they will be able to add/remove seats as need arises. For the large enterprises it is more appealing to not have the upfront cost of adding seats. and to have a consistent bill, vs the issue of dealing with staggered Annual Subscription bills of different CAD solutions.

In conclusion, I love month to month subscriptions.

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Adobe CS is fantastic, and I hope the 3D industry goes in the same direction. There will be some differences, I’m sure, but SAAS models are now tried and proven in nearly every other industry.

Great points about the confusing way AD is presenting it v. Adobe. They’ll get there.

I don’t see the relevance of OnShape in this comparison. OS is a single (beta) tool. AD and Adobe both offer a huge variety of industry standard tools. For OS to go SAAS is completely natural. For AD to convert its enormous portfolio to a single pricing structure will be a nightmare.

I threw Onshape in there because they’re taking a completely different approach.

A commentator on SolidSmack asked where Solid Edge is in all of this. I hadn’t realized how long it’s been, but Solid Edge has been available as subscription since August 2013. They seem to be rolling right along. Their base version (design and drafting) runs $130/mth.

After a few SolidWorks user groups meetings this year, where CEO Gian Paolo Bassi presented, there are speculations that SolidWorks will announce subscription pricing for 2016.


Good point. I’d forgotten about that.

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With Solid Edge it is not only that it is available on subscription. They have been progressive (who remembers how long) and demanded all years payed for lapsed licenses.

Timely. Just got this from Autodesk PR.

Autodesk Details Next Phase of Subscription Transition

“Today Autodesk, Inc. announced that after July 31, 2016, new commercial licenses of most Autodesk Design & Creation Suites and individual products will be available by subscription only. When this takes effect, the company will provide new, simplified subscription options so customers can access multiple products and share licenses as they do today — while gaining the simplicity, accessibility, and flexibility of subscription.”

“Earlier this year, Autodesk communicated that it will stop selling perpetual licenses of most individual products after January 31, 2016, with new licenses for these products available as subscriptions. Transitioning the remaining majority of Autodesk’s product portfolio — including Autodesk Design & Creation Suites — to an entirely subscription-based offering represents the next step in this shift.”

To sum up, perpetual license sales stop Feb 1, 2016, and simplified subscription options are coming August 2016.

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That’s gonna cause a stir (again). Yawn.