Autodesk UK is on the verge of upsetting its resellers again, as it prepares to follow its US division and sell AutoCAD 2000 direct to users through the web.
Last week Autodesk US stunned its channel with plans to sell the current upgrade of AutoCAD through its ecommerce sites from 21 February.
In the UK, Autodesk's ecommerce site sells retail products only. However, the vendor has already sent a letter to resellers confirming that it is considering a similar move to its US division.
Autodesk has also been accused of trying to silence channel worries, as resellers contacted by Computer Reseller News claimed that the vendor had instructed them not to talk. More than one authorised Autodesk reseller, who asked to remain anonymous, contacted CRN. One claimed that he received a "couple of unfriendly phone calls from Autodesk".
On Autodesk's plans to sell AutoCAD 2000 direct, the reseller added: "Years ago Autodesk wanted as many resellers as possible, but now it wants to get rid of loyal partners. The company wants to reap all of the benefits by moving into a higher-end business channel and also by going direct."
Another reseller said: "Autodesk selling AutoCAD direct on the web doesn't surprise me at all. We have our suspicions about Autodesk's motives, but it has called a meeting for 23 February so we'll reserve judgement."
Najeeb Khan, territory sales manager at Autodesk UK, said: "Every vendor has to have some sort of web presence. Surely resellers would be more worried if we didn't have a web strategy."
However, the company's online plans mean that it could eventually make more products available through a direct strategy.
Tim Taylor, Autodesk UK's managing director, insisted that most customers would still need to buy from a reseller. "Generic AutoCAD accounts for less than 50 per cent of our business. We have moved into other business areas and our partners also need to diversify their strategy," he said.
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