IMSI/Design is laying the groundwork for a mobile app ecosystem, revolving around its TurboViewer app (currently available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad). To entice other developers to come on board, the company plans to offer a free SDK (software developer kit) for TurboViewer, beginning next month.
Royal Farros, the company’s chairman and CEO, said, “We are going to enable an entirely new generation of CAD developers, letting them create powerful, custom apps based on our TurboViewer series, the fastest 2D and 3D viewing platform in the mobile world. We think this can be a real game changer.”
In June 2011, IMSI/Design, makers of TurboCAD and DoubleCAD XT, released TurboCAD Viewer, a free 2D/3D DWG viewer for mobile devices. It was quickly followed by the releases of TurboViewer X ($6.95) and Pro (introduced at $9.99, now selling for $24.99). The free viewer displays a bottom banner populated with rotating ads. Upgrading to commercial versions eliminates the banner.
IMSI/Design uses a similar strategy with its drafting and drawing software DoubleCAD XT. It gives away a free version, complemented by a Pro version selling for $695. The free TurboViewer SDK will be “generous and robust” in offerings, according to Bob Mayer, IMSI/Design’s COO. For those who desire additional features and functions, IMSI/Design plans to offer commercial versions of the SDK.
In releasing the SDK for TurboViewer, IMSI/Design is borrowing a page from the playbook of one of its biggest competitors, Autodesk. The success of AutoCAD, observed Mayer, is due to “its most enviable asset — the software developers creating a wonderful ecosystem around AutoCAD.”
IMSI/Design hopes to duplicate the same success with its mobile viewer series. “We believe we can be a foundation for Mobile CAD going forward and can’t wait to see what apps the smart phone and tablet generation creates,” said Farros.
The ubiquitous presence of mobile tablets and smartphones have prompted many 2D/3D design software makers to launch their own mobile viewers. The growing list includes Autodesk’s AutoCAD WS, Dassault Systemes’ 3D VIA Mobile, and Lattice Technology’s iXVL View. IMSI/Design plans to make TurboViewer also available for Android devices, but no specific date is available for delivery currently.
Running on Android OS and equipped with multitouch screens, leading e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color also contribute to the thriving app commerce. Selling for $200-$250, e-readers can stand in as cheaper alternatives to those unwilling to spend $500-$900 for a full-fledged mobile tablet. In a recent blog post, AutoCAD WS blogger Daniel pointed out that AutoCAD WS is available to Kindle Fire owners through Amazon market place. It may be only a matter of time before we begin to see TurboViewer and other 2D/3D viewers on e-readers.