Monday, January 26, 2009

Autodesk share price...a rant



I recently read an interesting article about Autodesk's plummeting share price at cgenie.com. The original article is here: (http://www.cgenie.com/articles/95-autodesk-wheres-the-money-going.html)
The article points out some interesting things:
  • in the 2007/8 fiscal year, Autodesk reaped $599 million in sales, yet a year on they have estimated a drop of $99-124 million.
  • Autodesk have laid off 10% of their staff
  • they have a plummeting share price
  • they have lost their CEO to Yahoo
So, essentially, things are not looking good for Autodesk. Somehow, though, I am not surprised. I'm fed up with Autodesk. I am tired of updates that are not worthwhile. The Autodesk Hype Machine promises the world, but rarely delivers on the promise. What's more, the support isn't great either. The thing that really fucked me off though was the early release of Max 2009, in February of 2008.
The company I work for had just bought Max 2008, (It was after all, still the beginning of the year 2008), and understandably they (management) did not want spend even more money to upgrade to Max 2009. I don't blame them.
While doing routine arch-viz work with Max 2008 the software would frequently crash. I am used to Max crashing, I've come to accept it, as have all my 3d artist friends, albeit it somewhat reluctantly and grudgingly. Every time Max crashes it asks you if you would like to send in a CER (Customer Error Report). This is basically a synopsis of what you were doing when Max crashed, and If Autodesk knows what caused the problem, they will email a solution back back to you, for instance: where to download a patch, or what workaround to use.

My 3ds Max 2008 crashed several times on June 3 2008, I sent off the CER, and this is the response that I got back from Autodesk:

Notice that it says: "Technical Solution: A fix for this solution can be found in the latest release"
I interpret this message as saying: "Your software (Max 2008) is out of date and we are not supporting or developing it any longer, even though it is only June 2008. There are bugs and problems with Max 2008, if you don't want your software to crash, you have to upgrade to the latest version, Max 2009. Oh and you will have to pay for this upgrade too, sucker."

So never mind the thousands of Rands/Dollars, we spent on Max 2008, If we want working software we must pay even more and get Max 2009. WTF? How do we know that Max 2009 works properly and that the whole silly cycle wont be repeated, with Max 2010 being released in February 2009?

With support solutions and a "forklift upgrade" attitude /policy like this, why am I not suprised that Autodesk's share prices are falling? Yes, I know the global economic cricis is partly to blame for that, but in todays economy the end user wants value for money, not to mention fully-functioning software. We don't wan't senseless upgrades, with features we don't really need, or worse still, features that don't even work properly.

What have I learnt from this? In the immediate short-term future I will still use 3ds Max, but I am sure as hell looking at cheaper and even free alternatives. Now that V-Ray for Blender is under development, perhaps it's time to move on to something that offers real value, such as Blender with V-Ray or Sketchup with V-Ray. Am I wrong?




3D models