Socialcam was a hot startup with a simple app that lets people quickly shoot and edit videos on smartphones and share the clips with friends. That might have made it a natural target for a company like Google or Facebook or Apple trying to keep up in social networking. But Socialcam was instead recently bought for $60 million by Autodesk, a company better known for expensive software used by architects, product designers, and Hollywood animators.
Why would Autodesk, a company that had $2.2 billion in revenue last year, care about a cute social app that people can get for free? Because selling expensive software to businesses, lucrative as it may be, is becoming a less reliable way of staying on top of trends in computing. As employees use tablets and smartphones both at home and work, and as desktop software moves to the Web, the lines between consumer and business customers are blurring.