Fighting China's Pirates

After years of relying on legal and political muscle to fight rampant piracy in China, big software companies have started wielding a new weapon: lower prices. And the early results are encouraging.

Software companies including Microsoft Corp. and Autodesk Inc. have seen unit sales jump since lowering prices to lure users away from pirated copies, executives said in interviews.

For instance, Autodesk, which makes AutoCAD and other design software, saw its number of licenses in China more than double to an estimated 300,000 as of July after it slashed local software prices last year, said Patrick Williams, Autodesk’s senior vice president for the Asia-Pacific region.

The U.S. company’s prices in China are now about half the level in the U.S., compared with about 20 percent to 30 percent lower before last year’s reduction. Autodesk sells its flagship AutoCAD 2011 software on its U.S. website starting at $3,975.

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