Enhancing the technological content of Autodesk's products is inevitable. Not only do our investors expect it, but our long-term financial health almost requires it. A company which remains stagnant, or which limits its own potential soon loses the confidence of the investment community, as well as those who make strategic decisions for their companies.
By adding this technology into AutoCAD itself we run the very real risk of alienating a large portion of our current users, and encouraging them to migrate toward CAD products which offer capability more precisely suiting their needs. If we were to abandon these users, who have been the foundation of our success, we would have no guarantee that our future success, being based on a user base which we do not understand well.
By differentiating our products, we can achieve the best of both worlds, providing additional leverage for AutoCAD in those environments whose purchases are motivated primarily by design considerations. In addition, the wide success of AutoCAD itself will provide the entry of the AutoCAD Designer into companies who are already familiar with Autodesk, introducing them to high end design, or displacing turnkey systems which are already there.
This strategy is an extension of the AutoCAD strategy. Autodesk has never attempted to solve all of the problems associated with design and manufacturing, in contrast to the turnkey approach. AutoCAD was a product which was narrowly focused to solve one of the stages of the process better and less expensively than the turnkey vendors could do it.
AutoCAD Designer should similarly be narrowly focused within the design stage of the process and not be afflicted by the ``total solution'' disease. By cooperating with our third-party developers, we will be able to cooperatively offer solutions which address the full range of the process, at a price irresistible to the user community.
Our primary strategic approach must include a firm, unyielding commitment to our current customer base; we must be totally unambiguous about our support of the technology in AutoCAD, and continue to be paranoid about satisfying those users' needs. We should also, however, take advantage of what I believe to be a rare opportunity to deliver a fatal blow to the turnkey vendors (and perhaps to PTC as well) by being a key player in the emergence of a new market for high-end design automation, where we are uniquely qualified to play.
Editor: John Walker