CADDManager on August 10th, 2009

Cash for Clunkers has been splashed all over the news lately.  A program to stimulate car sales that takes your old “clunker” and allows for a savings of up to $4500 when you buy a more fuel efficient car.

My idea is CAD for Clunkers.

I would like to see a discount for turning in your old CAD programs for newer versions.  This goes beyond some of the discounts that have been provided before.  I have seen the ones that some vendor provide when they “end of life” a product and these are helpful.  I have noticed discounts that are offered when new releases come out.  I have seen the efforts of some CAD providers that encourage shifting from one platform to another and these are all good.


I want to see real discounts – insane discounts – that will get folks on older versions to move forward.  Discounts that can not be passed up.  Once in a lifetime discounts.  Game changing discounts.

Here’s how it could work… Any software vendor could do this…

  1. Provide proof that the user is at least two releases behind
  2. Accept any version of software – even the old stuff that is no longer used.  I am talking way old stuff.  If you can find an install disc – you get a discount – any CAD based program from any prior year.
  3. Provide deep discounts
  4. Link the sale to ongoing maintenance/subscription
  5. Bundle the sale with training vouchers – to ATC’s and Resellers
  6. If a user moves from one software vendor to another – provide a deeper discount
  7. If the software is way older – provide a deeper discount

Here are the benefits of such an offer.

For the software developers:

  1. They could bundle the upgrade to subscription maintenance, thereby producing an ongoing revenue stream
  2. Reduce the support efforts on older releases.  I know that they already do this by stopping the support calls, but this could wipe off so many older releases that the industry could focus on the new
  3. Generate a lot of great PR
  4. Opportunity to move some people from another vendor to yourselves
  5. Increases the opportunity for multiple platforms in the same firm because they could afford to have more than one platform
  6. More sales opportunities

For the end users:

  1. Gets them on the latest release without going broke
  2. Removes the economic disincentive for moving forward
  3. Clears away the cobwebs that have collected under our chairs as they learn new tools
  4. Increases productivity – even a slight increase leads to #5
  5. Saves them money
  6. Provides economic incentive to move
  7. Prepares them for tomorrow

For the Industry/Project Teams:

  1. Gets more players on the newer software
  2. Increases productivity for the entire design food chain
  3. Move us toward the promise of CAD/BIM being 3d for all
  4. Restarts the unification of releases for the project teams, all stakeholders on the same platform

So – lets just say you do this…  users would be digging in their old software storage bins for that copy they had back in 1998.  They would dig up the floppy install discs that are in the bottom of that box in the closet.  They would tell their friends.  It would start a progressive move toward the latest software.

Autodesk?  Bentley?  CATIA?  Graphisoft?  Pro/E?  Solidworks?  TurboCAD?

Any takers?

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9 Responses to “CAD for Clunkers”

  1. HA!…I love this concept!

    Perhaps Autodesk could offer financing as well? They could offer a super low rate to cover any costs right now, where money is tight, and yet Autodesk would make more money on the interest collected. Not sure Autodesk wants to get into the financial sector, but it would provide additional revenue.

    Now the big question is…..will Autodesk read this article and offer the “CAD for Clunkers” deal?

  2. Hello,

    I’m guessing that you do not often use a CAD programme to solve design problems…other than notional ones?

    I’m also guessing that you perceive ‘newer’ to be ‘better’ and that somewhere, you have a draw full of ‘old’ mobile phones and other gadgets?

    Whilst I’m on a roll I’ll also hazard a further guess that you would find it difficult to imagine that there may be designers out there that can now look past the continual hype and churn?

    Some of us have to focus on the real job in hand, ie designing, with the ‘old clunker’ applications. In the right hands, these clunkers are more than capable of the task required (Concord and the Lunar landing equipment was I believe designed with pencil and paper).

    These CAD clunkers will load & run fast on low spec modern PC’s and generally we bailed out of the upgrade race at a time when our specific flavour of CAD worked relatively bug free with the rest of our applications.

    Moving to the latest and greatest CAD release can require a sizeable chunk of cash to be spent on hardware and also non-CAD related software with which we interface. The system de-bugging can also be extensive as can the re-familiarisation process.

    I enjoy a spot of diversion as much as the next person but we need the majority of people in industry to be able to discern when they have an adequate capability in their hands and to then get on with the job!

    Kind regards,

  3. Jonathan,

    Point well made… I am not trying to say that the old will not work, but that the financial disincentives of moving toward the new could be swept aside.

    Like the owners of the old clunker cars who are still able to get to the grocery store and back – old CAD still works.

    What I am suggesting could be akin to replacing your old, high watt light bulbs with newer, low energy ones – in the long run it saves money.

  4. Hello Mark,

    I apologise that my previous reply was perhaps a little reactionary and largely critical, but I still can’t agree with the popular premise that upgrading old CAD software will save money.

    There is little doubt that each new version displays a myriad of new ‘features’ but often at the expense of day to day useability, load up time, stability etc.

    Using your low energy light bulb analogy, surely if we are to experience an improvement in the latest CAD version we would see something like a reduced load up time or memory foot-print, maybe a quicker response in the rendering times or drawing layout updates? And none of this would require hardware replacement!

    The low energy light bulb is pretty much a ‘no brainer’, you get an increase in light output for the same electrical input. No fitments need replacing in order to reap the benefit of the new version and the improvement is indeed experienced.

    I’ve un-intentionally deflected the core message of your original post. How about if the CAD vendors offered us a choice of like-for-like updated replacements of our old software as well as bloatware upgrades. This new upgrade would have all of the bugs fixed but no new wizz-bangs. It would run equally well on the existing hardware.

    Importantly, it would also have a choice of EULA, 1-legitimate CAD user, 2-potential thief, 3-potential hacker….etc.

    As the legitimate CAD user I would find that my version of the EULA would be less than a paragraph of respectfull and honestly worded intent, aimed at creating a trusting and lasting business relationship.

    Versions 2, 3…of the EULA would of course be nasty gobbledegook. Indeed, most of the vendors would only be required to create a version 1 EULA:-)

    Thank you for listening,

    Kind regards,

  5. Jonathan,

    I agree that no one should upgrade unless there is a valid – defend-able – reason that increases productivity, reduces problems or enhances capabilities.

    Most firms that I speak with are skipping a release – based on the concerns you have raised (which I agree with)

    Your concept of bug fix releases is interesting. Sometimes it sure would be nice to get the fixes without the “extras”.



  6. Hi, just out of curiosity… isn’t that what the “legacy” program is for, from Autodesk? I have an old Autodesk mechanical desktop v. 3 with autocad rel. 14 (I paid $4000 for it at the time) and they didn’t give me a good discount (like around $600 to $800 I think). It’s been a while back and it might have changed a bit by now. Anyway it’s not deep enough discount to have a valid reason to upgrade to new software like inventor 2010.

    Thanks for reading and have a good one.


  7. Jeffrey,

    Yes the Legacy program is still around and I think one is in place now. But I am talking about radical discounts. Mega discounts. My eyes are popping out of my head discounts.

    Let’s see some of those…

    But the Jet America $9 airfare did not work out – so I am not holding my breath.


  8. Ok, what happens when all your current subscribers demand some sort of compenation for keeping current, and getting hit for it.

    I can understand this for competitor cross grades maybe but even then.

    Within a platform I reckon youd kill the subscription market.

    Put it this way. My cellphone company has a new network but it’s offering more to people on other networks to move to them that it is to me, the existing customer, to stay and upgrade. That’s why I’m looking at a new providor.

  9. Hello Mark:

    Your CAD for Clunkers idea is a good one and I see that there is now a competitive upgrade offer available for ArchiCAD under the same tag-line. We have considered offering a compelling incentive to our older-version customers in order for them to “get current”. However, a steep discount to hold-outs can be seen as a slap-in-the-face to our customers who upgrade on a regular basis.

    As Jonathan expressed earlier in this thread, not everyone wants to be on the cutting edge. Our technical support staff receives calls on a regular basis from people who want to know how to run 5 to 10 year old versions of DataCAD on XP and Vista rather than upgrade. Why? Because that old version is “good-enough”.

    Since upgrade revenue fuels continued development, we’d certainly like to see more of our customers stay current.

    Mark F. Madura

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