Friday, July 10, 2009
It's All Fun and Games Until
Someone Loses an I(nvestor)
My take? My very own personal and completely unscientific .02?
This is a really big deal. And this is not about the OS. If you're in doubt, just compare prices between the next full version of Windows and present full version Microsoft Office. Operating systems are commodities. Except for rabid Mac users (myself included), most people don't care as much for their operating systems as they do their digital photos.
People just want to be able to get to their "stuff".
Now add to that:
"People just want to be able to get to their "stuff" - anywhere."
What's really happening? By offering people the ability to create documentation, presentations, spread sheets, email and so on over the web, Google is getting people used to the idea that they can in effect, *trust* the Cloud. Ubiquitous access. Compute intensive. Software as service.
What's really, really happening? People are getting used to trusting the Cloud for design. Basically, Google is begining to tackle the commodity design and collaboration space, which is a really big deal to AEC. Google is quietly usurping:
*Web Browsing? Explorer = Chrome
*Communication? Outlook = Gmail
*Instant Messaging? Messenger = Google Talk
*Phone Service? ATT/whatever = Google Voice
*Documentation? Word = Google Docs
*Presentation? PowerPoint = Google Presentation
*Spreadsheets? Excel = Google Spreadsheets
*Photos? Photoshop = Picassa
*3D? Max = SketchUp
So here's the really big deal: suppose you really, really want to disrupt the AEC market? You go after BIM, right? Nope. CAD. All over the world, CAD is the ubiquitous, commodity design space. And getting CAD into the Cloud will require a lot less lifting, while creating a lot of valuable feedback that could eventually spill over into BIM. So what if Google took a tool like IntelliCAD and hosted it in the Cloud?
Well, that would leave us with:
*CAD? AutoCAD = "GoogleCAD". Stupid name, but you get the idea. In the Cloud. Software as service. Multi-platform. Free.
Sure - the really big companies won't trust it (at first - or as soon as it starts to really cost them business). But in the meantime, the vast majority of design firms are only around a dozen people. Firms that size don't make have phone calls to schedule conference calls to schedule meetings. They just decide.
What's really unfortunate? While ADSK has been busy polishing their cross platform UI so people would hopefully use (i.e., buy) more stuff across platforms, Google has been taking the keys to the kingdom. It's never been about which CAD is better. It's always about who controls distribution. And distribution via the Cloud is really, really disruptive. And Google is owning the Cloud.
Don't think you'll ever trust the Cloud? Try pointing to where your email lives. Or your text messages. Or your Netflix Watch Now movie. Or your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Webpage/YouTube Channel/Blog/etc. You don't know where they live - hardly anyone does. But it still works.
The irony is the unintended consequence of concentrating on a "Common Look and Feel" hasn't seemed to motivate the masses to move to Revit. It's as if just the opposite has occurred. The forums aren't full of AutoCAD users rejoicing about how easy Revit is to master now that the buttons look the same. If anything, the buzz is no longer buzzing. It's as if that sound a car makes when you've got the pedal all the way to the floor has been replaced by the quiet rush after you lift your foot and start to coast.
Why no mass migration to learn Revit? I'm convinced the thinking has gone something like this: "Heck - all these tools look the same now anyway. So now I can learn to use Revit anytime I want. So what's the rush? ZZZzzz..."
In other words, rather than maintain a sense of urgency by concentrating on the unfamiliar (BIM), ADSK has created a sense of complacency by emphasizing the familiar (CAD). It's not that it isn't easier to move over to Revit - it's just more comforting to stick with AutoCAD. Who's idea was this?
And in the meantime, I believe CAD is about to get very, very interesting.
My suggestion? Stop polishing the "Common Look and Feel" bumpers, get back in the car, turn the key and put the "Features and Functionality" pedal down to the floor as fast as possible. Because the next exit up ahead is BIM.
And Google is fast approaching.