Perhaps you were enjoying some light budgeting of software expenses over the weekend, following thoughts of monthly pricing with icy swigs of Portland’s best pale ale. Would paying monthly work better? How can we get the software we need for this three month project? Autodesk thinks they have the answer. They’ve been moving toward a ‘pay as you go’ pricing model to address software purchasing woes and provide an option for more business-friendly payment plans. They just announced and published new monthly, quarterly and annual pricing for suites and software that is sure to have you considering the options.
To Purchase or Rent?
A lot of factors weigh into the decision to purchase or rent. Rent entails a sense of the temporary. Purchase, a sense of the permanent. Permanence is nothing but temporary these days and many companies are offering easier methods to use product and service as needed. It builds on the monthly subscription models made popular by many web services, not locking you into a large lump sum payment, but rather for your convenience (and to their advantage), locking you into continuous monthly payments and no commitment, but with the option of saving money should you opt for a longer annual plan. It’s attractive to most and works for many, putting the software purchase along with other monthly expenses. however, for high-end 3D design software, the same hasn’t been attempted until recently. Autodesk started offering monthly pricing from the get go with their cloud services Autodesk 360 and Fusion 360. Now they’re delivering the rest of their suites and software in the same way.
The pricing is laid out by Suite or Software on Standard, Premium and Ultimate Editions per Month, Quarter and Yearly rental rate. The cost for renting the suite/software for a year is significantly less than the outright cost of the suite/software. Of course, that’s all part of the convenience and the strategy–the monthly rates are easier to bite off, but cost more over time. The yearly rates are less than the full price of software, but you continue the rental price each year, rather than paying the lower yearly maintenance fee.
As a comparison, a perpetual license of 3ds Max or Maya retails for $3,675. With the new rental pricing, annual subscription is $1,840 ($575 Quarterly, $195 Monthly). For the Product Design Suite you pay $4,995 for a perpetual license of the Standard version. With the new rental pricing, annual subscription is $2,500 ($940 Quarterly, $315 Monthly). You can see the breakdown in pricing on http://www.autodesk.com/buy/us-prices.
What about the resellers?
Subscription rental plans are typically sold direct through the software company–no use for resellers if you can just buy and download it online, right? However, AUtodesk has been careful about excluding resellers. You can already purchase Autodesk software online. The rental plans simply offer another option and with that another option for resellers. According to a statement from Autodesk PR, resellers will be offering the rental plans to customers on a quarterly or annual basis. The monthly rental plans will be sold on the Autodesk store only.
Pinning down the Pricing Structure
The new Autodesk pricing structure is a different world from what a company like Adobe is doing–offering use of the whole range of products and services for a flat fee ($49.95/month). “Of course, Adobe’s user base is larger than that of Autodesk.” Sure, but with Autodesk (and like Adobe before the got rid of Product Suites), you need to pick and choose the Product Suite (packed with software designed to make it easier to choose your product combos). That complicates the ordeal. At first glance, you don’t see what software is included. You see a Suite and a price for different versions. To me, this boils down to confusion and a slower acceptance rate among those who are anxiously looking for more options or a way out of their current software choice. Could they have pulled an Adobe pricing model? I’m convinced there’s a sweet spot of user that would pay a monthly price for all Autodesk products and services. “But Autodesk covers a wider variety of disciplines than a company like Adobe.” Perhaps. However, I’m also convinced there’s an advantage for Autodesk here, making them the go to software company simply because all of the software can be accessed all together at a single, solid price. Autodesk, of all companies, has the reach and breadth of software to cause a massive shift to their platform for the simple reason that it’s so simply presented and so easy to access. At the moment, it’s less so, and with their commitment to convert users of other software and push more software into the cloud, wider access to more of their products across industries can only help them.