Google has announced the sale of Sketchup, the popular 3D modeling program used by millions around the world. Originally developed by @LastSoftware and acquired by Google in 2006, Sketchup has grown to over 30 million users.
Sketchup was acquired by Trimble, a California-based maker of positioning software and hardware, including GPS, optics, laser, and more. According to the Google blog, Sketchup will focus on “our core communities: modelers who have been with us from the beginning,” specifically “in the architecture, engineering and construction industries.” Google 3D Warehouse, an online repository for Sketchup models, will be run as a partnership between Google and Trimble, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
The sale of Sketchup follows in the wake of a number of smaller reorganizations. According to Google CEO Larry Page,
Google has so many opportunities that, unless we make some hard choices, we end up spreading ourselves too thin and don’t have the impact we want. So we have closed or combined over 30 products, including projects like Knol and Sidewiki.
The Sketchup acquisition brought Google to Boulder, CO in a big way. According to Colorado Daily, in 2010 and 2011 Google expanded their Boulder operations twice, moving into three buildings with a total of 16,000 ft space to focus on “four focus areas of Chrome, Geographic and 3D, Google Apps and Revenue Platforms.” At this point, Google has made no statement about the future of its Boulder campus. Trimble is based in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Equally unclear is the future of 3D Warehouse, an online repository of free 3D models launched soon after Google acquired Sketchup in 2006. Sketchup models can be used in Google Earth, and are also widely utilized by modelers, game designers, and others. Google announced a partnership with Trimble for the future management of 3D Warehouse, though they neglected to name any specifics of how this would work. For developers and users of Sketchup models, you can rest easy: the 3D Warehouse terms of service clearly lay out that Google believes 3D Warehouse belongs to the community. “You [the creators] retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” Users of models are likewise protected, so it’s likely that 3D Warehouse will continue to be a free and open service for all.
For all the Sketchup users out there worried about the fate of a great tool, John Bacus, the project manager of Sketchup, has these words:
If you’re one of the many, many people who use SketchUp for something else—from education to woodworking, geo-modeling to movie-making—rest assured that there will be a SketchUp for you, too. Our mission has always been to make 3D modeling tools that anyone can use. The free version of SketchUp is an important part of our world as well, and that isn’t changing in the least.
Thanks to Google, more people than we ever imagined possible have been introduced to SketchUp. Thanks to Trimble, we’ll be able to continue to make SketchUp into the tool that we—and you—have always hoped it would become. With a strong wind at our backs and plenty of sunshine ahead, this voyage just keeps getting more exciting.