In a historical announcement today, Autodesk announced it will stop selling software — and start renting it. After February of 2016, you will only be able to get Autodesk desktop* software on a "subscription model."
See the announcement here .
It finally happened. With this announcement, Autodesk joins the current trend in software sales favored by other industries. The very successful Salesforce.com, the most cited example, is available only on a monthly or annual subscription model. Adobe's professional bundles are now only on a $50/month plan. Just about any application newly minted is available only this way. Basecamp, Dropbox, Infusionsoft, web hosting . . . not one of them is available for "perpetual license."
Autodesk is fully aware that not all current users will be happy with this plan. The company seems to have held back on embracing this new model for years due mostly to the hue and cry from its millions of CAD users, the largest professional CAD user base in the world. For more than 10 years, Autodesk has been working on coaxing reluctant AutoCAD users to switch to subscription. Smaller CAD companies, such as Bentley, in particular, had been achieving better results switching their user base.
CAD users are not alone in wanting to buy software once and own it forever. Microsoft faces the same problem with its Office software as the software giant tries to transition to subscription. For many users, the software is good enough when it is initially purchased. They don't want to keep paying for it
There are many reasons for vendors to switch to pay-as-you-use models. Chief among them is that it evens out the revenue stream. Traditional software sales of established products rely on updates. Big annual releases had to be packed with new, useful features so users would buy the updates. A lot of them would. The revenue would spike. Only to trail off for the rest of the year, with increasingly less spectacular quarters.
Now, in a bold, no-turning-back move, Autodesk has embraced what it sees as the future of software licensing. I expect other CAD vendors will follow suit.
*Autodesk is calling its individual products "desktop." Its industry-bundled products, or suites, will continue to be sold with perpetual licenses — though the company stopped short of saying it would do this perpetually.
For more information:
- Perpetual Licensing Changes - from Autodesk, includes FAQs
- Autodesk’s Standalone Software to Go Subscription-Only in 2016- Bryant Frazer, Studio Daily, Feb 4, 2015
- Autodesk Moves to Subscription Service in 2016 - Kyle Maxey, ENGINEERING.com, Feb 4, 2015
- Autodesk Goes Desktop Subscription Only in 2016 - CAD-a-Blog, Feb 4, 2015