I note with interest the blog post Not so fast Bentley: Separating fact from fiction by Carl White, Senior Director of Business Models at Autodesk. In this, he responds to statements made by Bentley in its press release Bentley Announces Autodesk License Upgrade Program, stating:
Earlier this week, Bentley announced an “upgrade program” for Autodesk customers. We found the offer to be disingenuous and mischaracterizes what Autodesk offers our customers.
OK, let’s have a look at what Carl is complaining about. Here’s one Bentley statement that could be considered questionable:
For consideration by owners of Autodesk perpetual licenses facing Autodesk’s imminent deadline for the write-off of the future value of their investment, Bentley Systems is offering recovery of the value otherwise subject to forfeit.
Carl has a point here. The “imminent deadline for the write-off of the future value” line is presented as fact, but at this stage it’s not true. While perpetual license owners may legitimately fear for the long-term value of their investments, there is nothing subject to an imminent deadline other than the end of the ability to purchase further perpetual licenses. Likewise, the “subject to forfeit” thing is a scaremongering phrase that deserves Carl’s “disingenuous” label. Autodesk isn’t subjecting anything to forfeit right now. Anything else dubious in Bentley’s statement?
Bentley Systems considers purchases of perpetual licenses to be long-term investments by our users, so we continually innovate to increase their value. We are glad to now extend this ‘future-proofing’ to Autodesk license owners who otherwise will lose value in their applications.
That’s all pretty reasonable but the “…will lose value in their applications” part is questionable. We might suspect that will happen, but we don’t know it yet. Perhaps “…may lose value in their applications” would be more reasonable. Bentley also quotes a customer as saying:
Autodesk continually sets deadlines forcing us to give up our perpetual license for an annual subscription.
Now while it’s accurate to say that Autodesk continually sets deadlines and has certainly been very heavy-handed in its years-in-the-making push to rental (currently called subscription in Autodeskspeak), it has not yet forced customers to give up perpetual licenses. Those of us with perpetual licenses have not been forced to give them up. We can continue to use them. Bentley shouldn’t use inaccurate statements like this in its marketing, even when quoting others.
In summary, Carl is right. Bentley has been disingenuous and deserves a slap for it.
If only Carl had just stuck to the sort of analysis I made above, I could have ended my own analysis right there. Unfortunately, he didn’t. He couldn’t resist the urge to add his own “facts”. My next post will put these under the same kind of scrutiny.
What do you think about the time investment we are putting in a software that we used for decades? If someone doesn’t like the rental only scheme, he will loose all the time he spent and will have to spend time learning another app when this deadline comes. This is a real loss.
This is true. Product inertia among customers is what has kept Autodesk in business for years, and what it is relying upon to push through with the all-rental scheme. However, there are non-rental alternatives to important Autodesk products with a high degree of command, interface and customization compatibility. I believe Autodesk is underestimating them, and overestimating the degree to which product inertia will preserve its market share.