I believe that a CAD product with these characteristics: big, cheap, widely available, tightly integrated with its host system, and promoted and marketed in an aggressive manner could, in relatively short order, displace AutoCAD from its current dominance of the CAD market. AutoCAD would not be eliminated, any more than Lotus 1-2-3 has vanished in the face of competition from Excel, but it would be placed in the same difficult position: forced to play catch-up against the more modern product, trying to reverse an erosion of market share against a newer product with momentum on its side.
Autodesk has the capability today, by making a series of decisions at the level of senior management, to bring the first totally modern CAD product to market. Success in this endeavour would protect Autodesk but, most importantly, would position it to resume its growth into new markets and applications: the broadening of the market that accounted for much of our success in the last decade. Failing to take these steps will, in my opinion, leave AutoCAD a sitting duck waiting to be picked off by the first competitor who launches the product that AutoCAD could have been. How long might Autodesk have before that happens? There's no way to know, but betting the company on it not occurring is hardly a prudent strategy, or indeed any strategy at all. Ponder this: in my opinion, the magnitude of work involved in adding AutoCAD's capabilities to an application such as CorelDRAW! is roughly equal to that of adding CorelDRAW!'s facilities to AutoCAD. Further, remember that a competitor is free to target the lucrative heart of the AutoCAD market, not being saddled with the baggage of compatibility with prior releases, unprofitable hardware platforms and operating systems, niche applications, and characteristics of our distribution channel that constrain Autodesk's freedom of action.
Editor: John Walker