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AutoCAD LT arrives on the Mac

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AutoCAD LT is now available for the Mac.

On Tuesday, Autodesk announced that it has ported AutoCAD LT to the Mac, selling this "lite" version of its venerable design tool through the Mac App Store at a price of $899. Alongside AutoCAD LT in the Mac App Store, Autodesk will also offer a Mac incarnation of the free AutoCAD WS – a means of sharing, viewing, and annotating AutoCAD files via the web.

The full-fledged AutoCAD arrived on the Mac last year.

With its move, Autodesk embracing a new means of distribution. The $899 AutoCAD LT will only be available through the Mac App Store. "It's a big step for the company," Amar Hanspal, Autodesk's senior vice president for platform solutions and emerging business, tells The Register. "Historically, we've used a partner distribution channel, and now we're applying a much more direct distribution method to our professional software. It's another way that we see the professional and consumer worlds blurring."

Previously, the company offered a version of the free AutoCAD WS for Apple's iOS mobile operating system, and it has long given buyers the option of purchasing AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT via the web. But today's announcement is another thing altogether. Channel partners will not distribute the Mac version of AutoCAD LT.

Apple is actually moving the Mac away from the professional user, and the iPhone and iPad are first and foremost consumer devices. But Hanspal says Autodesk has seen a "pleasantly surprising" amount of success with AutoCAD WS on the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, and he believes this provides ample indication that there's a market for the company's designs tools on the Mac.

Hanspal boasts that AutoCAD is one of the first professional applications available through the Mac App Store, but AutoCAD LT isn't intended for high-end designers and engineers. It's meant for small independent shops doing less-complex design work. It tends to be used for drawing and other 2D designs, as opposed to 3D projects.

The Windows version of AutoCAD LT has an MSRP of $1200, but it can be found for lower prices from partners. Hanspal acknowledges that the Autodesk's decision to sell through the Mac App Store may spark some "questions" from these partners, but he says the company will continue to sell its other products through the channel. "I think partners will understand that we're trying to reach a new type of customer." ®

Update: This story originally said that AutoCAD LT marked a return for Autodesk to the Mac after a 15 year hiatus, but AutoCAD returned to the platform last year.

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