Sketchup Sold to Trimble
In a surprise announcement only a few hours ago, Google have announced that a company called Trimble has bought Sketchup, to improve its development for architectural benefits. In 2006 Google acquired a small modelling application called Sketchup. At the time this was a little unusual of Google, as it had less to do with online search, which was definitely Google’s game at the time, and still is to date.
However the reason behind the purchase was to develop a way for a community to start building 3D models of buildings, which would be entered into Google Earth’s 3D layer. It was developed heavily over the next few years, becoming more and more advanced, with features to rival much larger modelling applications. So much so, that Architects and designers started using it themselves to create design proposals and presentations.
Google discovered a new community and started feeding it with features such as ”Layout”, a tool for creating the 2D plan of a building, with all details and measurements added. This could then be converted to 3D all within the same package. Google allowed for plugins to be developed, which sparked off a trend of rendering packages, and tool enhancements. Allowing designers to turn their ”sketchup’s” into photo-realistic images. Other features made the grade such as DWG import and export, making this application irresistible to most Architectural companies.
Now though, Google seems to have done as much as it can. Any further development won’t likely make Google much more income, its sights are still on search and advertising, and Sketchup was supposed to be a simple tool, that seemed to take on a life of its own. It would be irresponsible for Google to dump the app, after all the hard work the community of designers done, creating models for ”Earth” and the 3D Warehouse. So they have made the brave decision and sold it to a company who will supposedly carry the torch. Trimble, leading provider of advanced positioning solutions, has acquired Sketchup for an undisclosed amount. Being a company with a background in GPS mapping, you wonder what their full intention for Sketchup is.
Since the announcement of the sale, users of Sketchup have expressed their concern, but Trimble released this statement, along with Google’s own statement. Trimble assure users that they are aware of the huge community behind the application, and do not want to disrupt any of this. It says that it has plans on enhancing the application with its own expertise but maintain the freedom and capabilities for all who wish to use it. For architects this may be a great thing, but without the Google branding, can Sketchup stay as popular, and attract as many new comers as it once did? Only time will tell.