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Our final article in this extensive Interview Series discusses the shared problem both Nemetschek AG and Apple have in the architecture market within the US. While Nemetschek North America in particular dominates large global markets (like Japan) the group's various AEC subsidiaries are often overlooked in the US AEC market. How can this change? What synergies can happen between these strong companies to benefit the US situation? And what does Apple need to do to get more focus within the US in the architectural market? Sean answers some of these questions and also tells us what his favorite Apple application is. Read on.


A Shared US Problem: Nemetschek AG and the Apple Mac

AFR: You have raised a very interesting point in talking about Apple. You have at least three companies within the Nemetschek group--Maxon, Nemetschek NA, and Graphisoft--that all have top-flight Apple Macintosh experience. Is there any chance that this experience will push out throughout the group?

(SF): I don’t know. I finally got Nemetschek AG's Vorstand to meet with Apple a few years ago, so I think they are becoming more aware. Allplan can run on the Mac using Apple's Boot Camp. Nemetschek AG actually has Macs in the building now. I think Apple needs to do a better job in explaining their market position within architecture, especially within the U.S.. Their market share in architecture within Europe is far better, between 20% and 30%. That is certainly what we see. Our biggest market in the world is in Japan. Our third biggest is in the UK. So half the sales of VectorWorks are to the Mac base, so globally we have a lot of customers running the Mac in architecture.

Yes, Apple and the Nemetschek Group sort of have a shared problem in the U.S. But Apple does have an Architecture section within their global websites worldwide. What can they do better?

(SF): Yes, but for some reason Apple isn't quantifying those numbers and pushing them out. If they did that they would probably help more companies-- other than Nemetschek AG companies--invest in the Macintosh platform.

You personally?

(SF): I worked with Window XP for 4 years and came back [to the Mac] and never looked back.

What is the policy at Nemetschek North America?

(SF): People can pick their platform here. I talk to people inside the company here, and some of them look at me like they would never use a Mac, which is funny. It is the same thing out in firms. They say, "I have used Windows for 20 years, why would I switch?"

The answer, in my opinion, is because it is a better, more stable platform. I think the hardware is better, too. But you can't convince them. You can see it in their eyes. They have shut down. Overall, NNA is probably about 1/3 Macintosh based.

This is where CAD is really more emotional than a car purchase. At least that is how one can see it.

You mentioned Scia, new tools Nemetschek AG has acquired. How will you bring some of this technology into the VectorWorks fold if it is not cross-platform for the Mac?

(SF): They are different customers. If you compare the Mac penetration in architecture to the Mac penetration in structural engineering, you will see a very different story. We would probably bring it over just for Windows only. That doesn't mean we are telling our customers to switch platforms. It means there are different customer segments that would be in Windows in the first place and would be needing that solution.

If we bring another product to the Mac, we are subjected to their engineering decisions as well. If you can build a market case for the Macintosh then we can look for a port.

One last question: How can Nemetschek AG drive critical synergies between all these companies to bolster their competitive position against competitors worldwide?

(SF): Internally we are looking at engineering synergies we can have. We have done so within the area of 3D. Arguably we have the best free-form modeling technologies in the world. Even if we are not sharing code, which is very difficult to do with legacy products, the Maxon and Scia guys both have tremendous technology with leading edge things like "clash detection" geometry.

We are starting the early process of building up communication in the group. That will take awhile to pay off. Anytime you bring R&D into it you are talking about years of synergy.

Any comments you'd like to add?

(SF): Before you had lots of Mac questions, but it is nice to see the Mac performing so strongly that we don't have to make the Mac the subject of the conversation anymore.

That's a great observation.

The only thing I can add to that is Apple seems fairly content to build out its platform (the Mac platform, that is) by building out great consumer products like the iPod and iPhone. And I guess people can complain that they should be focusing on making Macworld a bigger and better event for the software folks, but as long as they are growing Mac share, I don’t think they will listen much to that.

(SF): Yes, while there is no “Windows World,” it is pervasive, so you have Windows as part of other shows. You know the Mac has succeeded when you no longer need a show to say, “hey, look how great our platform is.”

Yes, but Macworld is also a great show because it's a community thing, you get to meet the Mac software community and see what they have come up with.

(SF): I agree. I think something is lost. The consumer aspect of the show has made it much more expensive for them to attend. But what was worse was when we had failing shows like Macworld New York, where it presented the Mac poorly.

Any great Apple technology you love using personally?

(SF): I have Aperture at home, and what a brilliant application, what a great interface! As long as Apple keeps doing great things like that they are going to grow.

Besides, there's a lot of talk in the industry about trade shows, their value and their disappearance. Now, if you want to talk to your focused customers and audience you do it on sites like yours.

That sounds wonderful to me. (laughs)

Thanks for the great interview. We've talked for 90 minutes. I know I've asked a lot of questions, but what a discussion!

(SF): Thank you for taking the opportunity with us.


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