Autodesk: 80 percent of college students in CAD-based majors prefer Apple Macintosh

Architosh got a chance to discuss all things AutoCAD for Mac users, talking to AutoCAD for Mac 2013 product manager Micah Dickerson of Autodesk,” Anthony Frausto-Robledo reports for Architosh. “We were particularly anxious to catch-up with the AutoCAD group as it has been a few years since the AutoCAD for Mac group had briefed us in detail on that group’s current and future efforts.”

“When news of AutoCAD for Mac 2011 broke in late 2010, Architosh got the exclusive story on why the company was making a fateful return to the Apple platform after a very long and difficult absence since the early 1990’s,” Frausto-Robledo reports. “Enjoy the interview.”

Some snippets:

AFR: Let’s just jump right into it. AutoCAD has been on the Mac natively now for more than two years and three versions. How is AutoCAD for the Mac doing for you? And in particular are there any surprises in how the product is taking hold within the overall market? I am particularly interested to know what customer segment is this product popular in.

MD: The product in general is doing very well. It is serving a broad swath of customers in what we call the ‘designer market.’ These users are interested in drawing tools that allow them to make accurate technical drawings for use within in a wide array of fields. We were never entirely sure where this product would go but we are quite happy with its wide adoption in general.

AFR: Okay, to bring more clarity to the earlier question, where are you specifically seeing more growth? What market segments? And how is it performing?

MD: In terms of performing, it’s performing well. In fact it’s actually picking up adoption among the student population. We see tons and tons of downloads. Part of that is due to that it’s free for students. Moreover, based on our field research in academia, college students in CAD-using majors are adopting the Mac as their preferred computer of choice by something like 80 percent or greater. This means, while they may be taught or doing work on Windows machines in labs and classrooms, they go back to their dorm room or home and do their homework on a Mac.

More in the full interview here.

MacDailyNews Take: The awakening is a wonder to behold!

Related articles:
Apple Macintosh owns 45% of PC market profits – April 16, 2013
Apple Macintosh on the rise as Windows PC market plummets – April 11, 2013
Macintosh: Apple’s overlooked growth opportunity – April 8, 2013
Autodesk announces AutoCAD 2013 for Mac and Windows – March 29, 2012
Autodesk on AutoCAD for Mac: ‘We could no longer ignore Mac’s comeback’ – August 31, 2010


  1. Just a couple a years ago, I remember opening AutoCad on a POS windows machine with XP. I would then go make some coffee and shoot the shit with coworkers while ACad awakened from its slumber. And what a slumber it was; oftentimes, I’d would have brought my coffee back and the things was still loading.

    Now on my new iMac, 6 seconds from opening the application and I am already working. A little bit of seconds longer if I start from a fresh computer restart. Awesome!

  2. Let’s be realistic, folks. Apple has not tried very hard to support professional/enterprise/engineering customers. Therefore CAD software market share is dominated by Windows-centric developers like Dassault and Siemens. It’s an $8 billion industry and inexplicably Apple doesn’t seem very interested in it.

    Autodesk is great for coming back to the Mac platform, but its offerings are barely a blip on the radar of industries that rely on significant materials analysis, FEM, and so forth. AutoCAD is just now getting into CAM and sophisticated analysis, kinematics, dynamic analysis, etc. CATIA, Pro-E, SolidWorks, etc — despite all being hobbled by their Windows underpinnings — remain dominant.

    So while MDN occasionally drudges up an article trying to make it look like Apple is gaining market share somewhere, it never shares the full story with data to back it. Nobody on these forums ever mentions Ashlar-Vellum, one of the few CAD makers that have stuck by Apple since its inception. Nobody discusses MCAD. Until the Apple community gets vocal and demands that Apple get off its ass and offer the products and support that engineering industries demand, then Wall Street will continue to treat Apple like a gadget maker.

    I understand how Jobs, who was never strongly engineering-oriented, could overlook this market. I can’t understand why Cook and the rest of the company can continue to be so blind to the computing needs of so many critical technical industries.

    1. This may or may not be news to you, but that WAS Apple’s main market and bread and butter for many years with the Power Mac and it’s ilk all the way from the late 80s and through the 90s (CAD actually started on the Mac, as did virtually every other media based heavy lifter). That focus began to shift with the combination of Windows dominance and the success of the iPod and iTunes in the 21st century (also the ill-fated licensing of the Mac OS to clones – there’s a reason they control the whole widget these days; licensing and bad management nearly bankrupted them. It’s a good object lesson for Google). Prior to that, the Mac was fairly synonymous with content creation and power computing – early versions of Windows simply weren’t powerful enough, and Linux / Open Source didn’t exist. Oh, there were proprietary systems like Silicon Graphics et. al., but for most people the Mac was where it was at. This is just the wheel turning again, really. 😉

    2. The article cited is not related to CAD CAM and manufacturing or machining or that kind of engineering. AutoDesk is far and away the dominant player in the Architectural and Building Engineering trade. Second place is a very distant second. So, for those of us in the architectural trade, this is somewhat good news. The sad thing is that Autodesk came out with AutoCAD for the Mac when they really need to come out with Revit for the Mac. Revit is Autodesk’s 3D BIM (Building Information Management) solution and BIM is the direction that the architectural industry is headed now. It seems that AutoCAD for the Mac doesn’t appear to be a game changer for anyone though. Virtually all large architecture firms in the US run AutoCAD or Revit on PCs and they aren’t going to switch platforms for one piece of software that may be on the way out anyway. Unfortunately, the high end of this industry is pretty much gone for good for the Mac.

  3. I am an interior design student.

    AutoCAD for Mac is very good, but we need more features (qual to Windows version) such as creating cameras. The camera tool is very important for rendering.

    Another point is that next semester I’m going to take a course in advance rendering techniques using 3ds Max. The problem is that it’s not working on Mac OS.

    1. Fortunately, Isa, you have the option of using Bootcamp on your Mac until more scientific, engineering, and technical software becomes available for OS X. It hurts to put Windows on a Mac but, sometimes, you just have to do it.

      Macintosh – the most flexible computing platform!

    1. Supposedly ACD is FINALLY working on reviving Canvas for Mac. I have depended on it in my business for twenty years and for what I do there is nothing that works nearly as well. I need an update yesterday!

  4. How about bringing over Autodesk Inventor? Our company is beginning to transition its products, parts and assemblies into to 3D. Having been recently trained to use Inventor, I was sorely disappointed to see that Autodesk still hasn’t made the full application available for Mac, despite the free Inventor Fusion 3D solids and surfaces editor on the Mac App Store.

    Sadly Inventor still has some very annoying ties to Microsoft Office, notably Excel, which is required to be installed locally in order to perform certain table-based data entry.

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