Still trying to catch up from nearly a month of personal and business travel, so here are a few interesting things from my overflowing in-box:

Autodesk commissioned a survey of online consumers that showed that the majority prefer to examine potential purchases in 3D and are more likely to buy products that have 3D assembly and usage instructions but won’t pay extra for the product that has 3D images.  These are interesting findings, especially for those of us in PLM: to us, 3D is a natural output mechanism and we’re used to being able to spin and pan widgets and assemblies.  This serves as an important reminder that most of the world still lives in and relies on 2D; manufacturers and retailers can distinguish themselves with high-quality 3D imagery — at least until 3D is pervasive.

Beth Stackpole had an interesting piece in Design News about CAD and CAE on the cloud, pointing out that these technologies require bandwidth and availability that is not yet the norm in many parts of the world.  Beth surveys most of the PLM vendors about their current thinking and concludes that it is likely that most organizations will take a hybrid approach:  collaboration on the cloud but CAD perhaps on in-house hardware, since moving gigabytes of data around is impractical for most people, given hardware today.

Siemens PLM Software is holding its European user conference this week.  According to OnWindows.com’s blog of the event, CEO Tony Affuso said that the company is “seeing the strongest new business pipeline in our history.  Of the top 25 automotive OEMs, for example, 24 now use Siemens PLM solutions, primarily Teamcenter.”  I knew Siemens’ penetration was high, but had not known it was that high!

Intergraph just released SmartPlant Enterprise Material Handling for the mining, pulp, and other bulk materials industries.  This product blurs the lines between process (flowing production processes like oil or chemicals) and discrete (mass-produced electronics, for example), enabling design and optimization of conveyor belts, trusses and gantries in a 2D/3D workflow.  It’s a natural extension for Intergraph, already providing plant design solutions to these customers, but also treads on the toes of the traditional PLM vendors who already sell into a raw materials market where demand outpaces production capacity.

PTC filed with the SEC to say that it has signed a new revolving credit agreement for $300 million, replacing the old $230 million line it had since February 2006.  This new credit line may be increased by up to $150 million more if lenders approve.  “As with the prior credit facility, PTC expects to use the new credit facility for general corporate purposes of PTC and its subsidiaries, including acquisitions of other businesses, and may also use it for working capital,” the company said in the filing. Hmm … what can they buy for around $300 million??

Yes, AutoCAD is back on the Mac.  An interesting take on why this matters to Apple was published by Fortune, which said that Apple sold 3.5 million Macs in the June quarter and is “finally starting to gain some traction in large enterprises. According to IDC, Mac sales last quarter grew 3 times faster in the business market and 16 times faster in government tha[n] the rest of the industry.” Clearly, for Apple, the stakes are high as it tries to get out of the “fanboy” market and sell into businesses attracted by the combination of iPad, iPhone and Mac. Apple is making a big Mac-related announcement this week; maybe about business computing?

Lots more to wade through, but that’s it for today.