GIS Monitor May 24, 2001

-Autodesk Announces First Quarter Earnings
-Fired Mapmaker Arouses National Controversy

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Autodesk had a good quarter. Income was $32 million compared to $30 million a year ago, but lowered forecasts for the upcoming year caused the stock to slump.

Analysts suggested that this quarter’s increase was due in part to interest and other income, a lower share count and an 8-cent per share gain resulting from the delay of a planned investment in its Internet spin-off

The GIS Division actually had a disappointing quarter, with revenues of $21 million, down 20% from last quarter and 16% from last year. Management blamed the slowing economy and limited demand from telcos. However, there was increased demand for the GIS Design Server, a new focus on major accounts and a belief that the new products, built on AutoCAD 2002, will help drive sales in the coming quarter.

On the wireless side, Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz noted two new flavors of OnSite, their mobile solution. She also was pleased to highlight the rollout of Fiat’s “OnStar”-like solution in Europe, built on Autodesk’s location-based services (LBS) platform. Bartz also hinted at future LBS partnerships in Europe, suggesting announcements coming in the next 60 days.

Two themes weaved through the earnings call. The first was considerable discussion of direct sales worldwide. The second theme was the retirement, or “obitting” of R14 early next year, meaning R14 will no longer be upgradeable after that date. Users of R14 would then have to pay full price for more recent releases. “Obitting” software can force users to upgrade and result in substantial income. It also reduces expenses as support for older releases is removed. Both adding sales staff and obitting may be seen as heavy-handed by resellers and end-users.


The GIS Monitor first covered Ian Thomas, a USGS contract employee allegedly fired for posting caribou calving area maps of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, back in March. Since then, the story has attracted widespread attention and was even lampooned in the Doonesbury comic strip. This week the Washington Post spends considerable energy to de-martyr Mr. Thomas, noting other problems Mr. Thomas had in his work and makes it clear that his contract was not on the list to be renewed, regardless of the caribou map incident.

Although the Post article confirms that Thomas was good at his job, it states that he wasn’t quite so good at following procedure and staying within the bounds of his contract. Thomas’ new job is with the World Wildlife Fund.

This story, spread in part by e-mails from Thomas to Internet newsgroups, initially broke in the LA Times. From that article and from materials from Thomas himself, it seemed to be about censorship. However, according to the Post, Thomas acted outside his charter and may even have published outdated data. The Post points out that environmentalists and conspiracy theorists have made a martyr out of Thomas, ignored the facts and used the story to further their cause.

This story is about far more than just maps and mapmaking.


-Autodesk noted that part of the reason for its successful quarter was its aggressive stand on piracy. Interestingly, the Business Software Alliance reports that piracy was actually up slightly in 2000 to 37% worldwide. Of particular interest, while Eastern Europe and North America have some of the lowest rates, those areas show the least progress reducing piracy. Explanations suggest that the challenging economic times are making piracy an option.

-If you want to tell the Ordnance Survey what you think of its website, fill out their survey. I am annoyed by one technology choice that begins with “J” made by a company that rhymes with “fun.”


I'm sure you'll hear from others at ESRI but I wanted to quickly point out that ArcView 3.x will continue to be sold and supported so Avenue doesn't go away for those people who don't want to change. For new applications, look at ArcView 8.1 but if you've got tens of thousands of lines of Avenue, there's no compulsion to move.

Mitchell Garnett ESRI Utility Industry Marketing Manager


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