Autodesk Sets Date for Subscription-Only Switch

Autodesk set a date to sunset its perpetual license program. What’s the new subscription model mean for you?

Autodesk has finally done it. After keeping users anxiously awaiting the launch of its subscription-only service the CAD-giant has finally set a date — July 31, 2016.

According to a press release made public this morning, Autodesk will discontinue its perpetual license scheme for new customers, who will instead be able to purchase software or bundles on a monthly or annual basis.

So why’s Autodesk making this move? Well, in the past we’ve highlighted many of the benefits of Autodesk’s subscription service, including flexibility, lower cost of entry, quicker updates and better technology. That sentiment is echoed by Autodesk, albeit with a bit more nuance (read: news speaky).

“The way we design and make things is changing: every industry is being disrupted by changes in production, demand and products,” said Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk senior VP of Industry Strategy & Marketing.

“Autodesk is embracing this new norm and evolving our business so that customers can thrive in theirs. Giving customers the flexibility to subscribe to software solutions that precisely match their needs best positions them to compete in this new era.”

Given the fact that designers and companies are now popping out the woodwork thanks to crowdfunding resources and free/cheap CAD software it seems like the subscription model has a two-fold benefit for Autodesk.

1.       Subscriptions, with their relatively low price of entry are likely to entice users who might otherwise stay with a free license to begin paying for their software. That’s a huge win for Autodesk as it’s likely to increase the reach they have across a wide swath of markets.

2.       Given that subscriptions are meant to be flexible (users can add or subtract software whenever they choose) Autodesk might be able to capitalize on each user, as companies or individuals become more successful and their needs grow.

The downside to all of this is that subscription models might not go over so well with large corporations or design firms who were happier paying for a single perpetual license and hanging onto that software for years… or forever.

While individuals seem like an easier group to sway, larger companies are just a little harder to nudge and Autodesk might have a bit of cajoling to do with its larger clients.

That being said, I’m sure there’ll be hefty discounts aplenty if a firm is willing to purchase hundreds, if not thousands, of seats.

In the end, Autodesk’s announcement just confirms what many have seen coming for a long time. Subscription CAD is on its way and if the today’s economic model isn’t just the pricing scheme du jour (think Spotify, Netflix, etc.) subscriptions will be here to stay.