Google has announced they are selling SketchUp – the 3D modeling tool made famous when @Last Software was acquired by Google and a free version of SketchUp was released in 2006 by Google. The new owner of SketchUp is Trimble – while the name might not be familiar to many of you, Trimble has been a part of of the geo-spatial community for years now, and have even had a layer in Google Earth since 2007.
So what does the purchase of SketchUp by Trimble mean? From what we’re hearing, this decision came from two main factors:
- Google has been working hard to focus on products that match their mission and target markets. We have seen a lot of products shut down in the past year. Everyone will tell you SketchUp is a great product. But, the main markets for the products are for CAD/CAM, achitecture, education, and GIS-related fields. Not the broader world audience Google tries to reach. So it definitely makes sense for Google to sell the product rather than closing it down.
- The SketchUp core team feels the move to Trimble will be a benefit for the product and in fact will be leaving Google to stay with SketchUp and continue growing the product. Google has also said the intent is to partner to keep the 3DWarehouse – an important resource for Google Earth 3D content – and that the free version of SketchUp will continue to be available.
While we were a bit surprised when Google announced this move, we can see the rationale for SketchUp. It gives SketchUp the opportunity to get more focused on its target markets. But, we still see a growing market of 3D developers who can produce 3D content useful to Google Earth.
Does this have any impact on Google Earth?
We believe the value of Google Earth, and its huge dataset, to the world at large, will continue to grow and fit Google’s mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful“. And, we believe SketchUp users will continue to contribute content to the 3DWarehouse and to the Google Earth 3D layer. Every indication we have from Google is that they are continuing their commitment to both Google Earth and Maps with new products and related announcements on a regular basis. In fact, Google introduced a major new release of their mobile version of Google Earth just last month – which shows a significant commitment to the growing new market of mobile computing. Google also has added sharing features to Google Earth to better integrate it with their focus on social networking and Google+.
We wish the team of folks leaving with SketchUp the best of luck. And, we look forward to seeing more great things from the Google team to develop new and better features and content for Google Earth and its global audience.