As a follow-up to my blog post back in May, Autodesk has finally announced that it is re-releasing Autocad for the Macintosh platform. It hasn't seen the inner workings of the Mac since 1996, when the last version to run on the Mac was release 12. That was before Apple even made the move to Power PC chips from Motorola and IBM (What? You didn't know Apple used processors from IBM? Yeah, those were the days) and strictly ran on the Motorola 68k-series processors. Now Apple has a new outlook, a new operating system, and an even bigger following than ever.
What does this mean for us designers? Actually for me, not that much on the surface. I try to use CAD as little as possible, although it is still a necessary component of digital design. I'm happy that others have filled Autodesk's shoes for the last 14 years with software such as PowerCADD, ViaCAD, Vectorworks, and the newly released ARES Commander. I'm even happier that there have been Building Information Modeling (BIM) applications available like ArchiCAD for the last two decades or so, as well as Vectorworks which also does BIM because this is the future of digital design.
What this means for lots of architects and engineers, however, is that it makes the decision much less painful to switch to the Mac in their offices. Not that it was very painful before, because the Mac can also be a PC running any version of Windows, but now it runs natively and there is a lot to say about the solid operating system that is OS X. In other words, it allows designers and production personnel to NOT use a PC. This is a big deal when it comes to support, viruses, and malware.
AutoCAD does come with what might seem to be a hefty price tag, but it's not outrageous for design software -especially that which comes with a huge company behind it. They have said it will retail for $3,995 which is the same as the Windows version.
Think about it - almost everyone knows about AutoCAD even if they've never used a CAD program. It gives some more name recognition to an already booming Apple ecosystem. Apple currently sells more than 3 million Macs in a fiscal quarter, not to mention all of the iPhones, iPods and iPads. More on this later.
I feel like it's late-in-the-game to bring AutoCAD to the Mac, but I'm sure they will sell copies. I personally wish that they would bring a native version of Revit over first. The only thing I use Windows for is AutoCAD and Revit - both of which I already run on my Mac either in virtualization or through Bootcamp. I'd prefer a native version of Revit and skip having to use Windows completely.
You can go their website and preview a very nicely done 60 second commercial, which captures the essence of the way Apple does a marketing campaign (maybe Apple even had a part in helping them produce it) and you can see the top 10 reasons to use AutoCAD on a Mac. They also have system requirements and other information.
Note the vintage Apple coffee mug
So happy together
On top of that, the New York Times is reporting that AutoDesk will soon introduce a free mobile version of the software that will run on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch called AutoCAD WS Mobile. Autodesk has already introduced other iOS applications such as SketchBook Pro and Fluid FX (iTunes links), so they are obviously committing resources to the iOS/OS X environment. I think this will prove to be an even bigger market than the Mac in the future.