Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Autodesk and HP WebOS - A "What If" Scenario

I confess; I am an Autodesk and an HP WebOS fanboy.  I love AutoCAD and my Palm Pre.  Hewlett Packard (HP) bought Palm last year when it looked as if all was lost.  I’ve purchased and used many Palm products, many HP products and many Autodesk products in my time.  I like them.  They work.  They are industry standards.  Now that Palm is part of the HP family, I expect even better things from them.
 
Hp has a problem with Palm’s mobile operating system, WebOS.  It’s not popular.  We all struggle with popularity at some point (or many points) in our lives, but when you are trying to sell a product or service popularity amongst your client base is a must.  The more popular you are the more purchases will be made. 

Autodesk has been around for over 25 years.  AutoCAD is very popular.  It is also very expensive.  Autodesk has a popularity problem too.  People only know AutoCAD.  Autodesk has scores of products, but many people only know of AutoCAD and they don’t know that AutoCAD belongs to a company called Autodesk.

HP and Autodesk have similar popularity problems.  Both companies want to sell more products.  Both companies have partnered up before.  HP had a big presence at Autodesk University this year, as well as in several years past.  They need to partner up again, but on the mobile front.

Autodesk has ventured into the mobile “CAD” market with great success.  They started out with a mobile version of Sketchbook on iOS for the iPhone, and then migrated it over to the iPad.  They now have a version for Android.  Fantastic!  There is even a Sketchbook “O” version in which Autodesk partnered up with Oprah Winfrey in order to reach a new market.  That’s not all that Autodesk has done, “mobily“ speaking.  They have also released a free mobile app that allows you to view Autodesk Inventor models.  Their best mobile venture to date has to be AutoCAD WS.  Yes, they have a version of AutoCAD for mobile devices that also works in a browser.  It is not AutoCAD, but it can read and write AutoCAD files.  Its main purpose is collaboration.  Multiple users can view the same file at the same time, save their work and go on about their lives.  AutoCAD WS is fantastic.  Best part of it is that it is free!
 
HP purchased Palm in order to get their hands on WebOS.  I don’t blame them.  It is a great mobile platform.  It is so good that RIM has emulated many of WebOS’ features in their new tablet, the Playbook.  In fact, according to early reports, Apple is also emulating WebOS features in iOS 5.  HP has many great products; desktops, laptops, tablets, printers, plotters, etc.  With the purchase of Palm they can apply WebOS to any of these platforms.  Imagine a standard operating system platform across many machines that we all use every day.  That allows products to communicate with each other or to at least get along with and share files more seamlessly.  It now seems that HP is getting ready to release new WebOS based smart phones, a new tablet and even new netbooks!  What they are missing are applications.  Why go with the iPhone or Android?  There are thousands of applications that they can use.  WebOS barely has 5000!  That’s a problem.

Autodesk has a problem being known by the average user.  HP has a problem with a lack of applications.  What if these two technology behemoths got together once again?  It wouldn’t be unprecedented.  They have worked together for many years and both have shown that they are willing to work with others for mutual benefit.  I propose that HP and Autodesk get together and create WebOS native applications based on the software Autodesk has already created.  Imagine, a brand new HP Netbook that has WebOS and AutoCAD WS running on it out of the box for every consumer to devour!  Why not get Autodesk to make the first Revit or Inventor app or 3DS Max app for WebOS.  They can make it for the other mobile platforms but make WebOS the first stop from now on.  HP gives AutoCAD a little something for it of course and HP gets to be first, and best. 

The average consumer, the DIY’s, contractors, designers of all types could use a mobile device (phone, tab, or netbook) in which they can use AutoCAD WS and/or Sketchbook.  It’s a huge market for both companies.  Autodesk, HP, think about it.  Give it a shot.  It’s a win for you and for the user.
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