Morning coffeeWelcome to a new week! We hope you had a fabulous weekend. Here in New England, we’re veering between lovely spring weather and cold winter, with snow in the forecast yet again. Sorry that this post is later than usual; server issues have had the Schnitger Corp website on a roller coaster ride over the last few days.

Given how quickly everything moves these days, it’s easy to miss some of the news in the PLMish world. As you start a new week, let’s recap last week:

It’s the Economy …

Last week we learned that inflation fell in the Eurozone to 0.7%, more or less the lowest level since late 2009. Why should you care? Economists are worried that Europe might see deflation, or falling prices, which can cause consumers to delay purchases as they wait for prices to bottom out. The strong Euro is also making imports cheaper while causing exports to be more expensive in other markets. A double-whammy of not-so-good. The European Central Bank is looking at alternatives to balance deflation/inflation and currency concerns, including measures to get banks to lend more money to businesses and consumers.

Here in the US, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen hinted that the Fed might raise interest rates sooner than expected, although the usual Fed-speak of “When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent” doesn’t actually say much. One good thing: The Fed now thinks the US unemployment rate could fall to 6.1% this year; it was 6.7% in February.

PLMish Deals, Earnings and Other News

We’ve had a fascinating run of deals lately, as the traditional PLM companies branch out in new directions while trying to stay relevant to their core constituencies. Last week, Hexagon sold off the last remaining asset from its former incarnation, and is now truly a technology company while Autodesk acquired Creative Market to bring “mousemade” graphic designs to a bigger market.

We had a couple of earnings announcements, too. Mensch und Maschine, the German Autodesk reseller and provider of its own CAD and CAM software, reaffirmed most of the preliminary numbers released in February: Total revenue was €126 million, up 6%; software revenue €35 million, up 4% as reported but up over 8% in constant currencies. The VAR businesses reported revenue of €91 million, up 6%. MuM did adjust operating cash flows up from the preliminary announcement, to €4 million; that’s a big deal as the company has moved from a distribution model to a VAR model over the last couple of years, leading to negative operating cash flow in fiscal 2012.

ExOne, the 3D printing company that focuses on binder jetting, silica/sand and other high-end technologies, reported results that missed earlier forecasts and issued 2014 guidance that shocked Wall Street into a retreat on 3D printers in general. ExOne reported Q4 revenue of $10.7 million, down 16% y/y and $1.4 million below the company’s guidance as delays in international sales caused the company to only sell 3 of its high-end printers, as opposed to the 5 it had planned on. Even so, 2013 revenue was up 38% to $39.5 million, as it sold 29 machines overall, up from 13 in 2012 and five in 2011. For 2014, ExOne expects revenue between $55 million and $60 million, below the $61.6M analyst consensus.

There’s one notable name missing from the 3D printing hype: HP. HP said last week that it’s making a big announcement in June about solving the two biggest challenges in rapid prototyping: that it’s not all that rapid and that quality is often poor. Yes, it’s an announcement about an announcement, but HP is such a huge global player in printing technology that its non-entry into 3D printing was startling. Lots of rumors about acquisitions but it now looks like HP has had something of its own under development.

Apps continue to be in the news. Autodesk released a new mobile app for group messaging, called Autodesk Instant. It’s meant for business users and seems quite a stretch from the company’s other design/analysis/creative apps. Perhaps the real key is that “Autodesk also reportedly has plans to integrate it with some of its other products in the future”, perhaps some CAE vendors tweet or otherwise tell users that simulations have converged.

AVEVA‘s E3D Insight app is now available on Windows 8.1 to enable mobile users to comment and approve AVEVA E3D designs from the field, an airplane or wherever they may be. AVEVA previewed the app at its last user conference and generated a lot of interest. It’s here!

Finally, Dassault Systèmes announced the release of Apriso Mobility apps apriso.com for its Quality, Production, Warehouse, Maintenance, Time and Labor solutions. Native to Windows 8, iOS and Android, the mobile apps provide real-time visibility into manufacturing operations.

The move towards apps is fascinating. Right now, we’re at the mobility stage: doing a subset of what we do on our desktops via apps that work wherever we happen to be. As we figure out uses and limitations of this form factor, will we embrace smaller chunks of larger applications, those that are suited to application and access from a mobile device? How wi;l that affect the applications running on our desktops? If I use an app on my phone, I’ll expect an approximation of that interaction on my desktop. And will I expect that pricing, too?

Links of the Week

This week, we’ve got two surveys for you. Econolyst is running its second annual survey to find out why and how people are using 3D printing. Develop3D summarized last year’s results here. Most interesting: over half of the 3,000 respondents used 3D printing for work, and only 1/4 for hobbies. Across the board, people are printing their own designs, and almost no one printed designs they had bought from others. To get involved this year, click through to http://www.3d-printing-survey.com/

Cyon Research is doing its annual survey of CAD/BIM/PLM users. Go to http://t.co/TNWJfJz209 to take part and get a free copy of the results once they’re compiled.

That’s it — gotta post this while the server is up — have a great week!