Announced today on the official Sketchup Blog, Google has decided to sell Sketchup to Trimble, a publicly traded technology company specializing in GPS, Engineering & Construction, agriculture, and field and mobile worker devices.
What does this mean for Sketchup?
A lot is still up in the air right now, but according to the Trimble press release not much will change for the immediate future:
For the foreseeable future, Google will host and operate the 3D Warehouse for Trimble and together the companies will continue to offer the same capabilities, functions and services that are offered today. The ability for users to submit 3D Buildings for potential acceptance and viewing in Google Earth will be maintained. Currently the 3D Warehouse has almost two million user-generated models.
So it looks like Trimble and Google will be working together to maintain the current Sketchup community, especially the 3D warehouse. Users will still be able to upload to the 3D warehouse and submit their models for inclusion into Google Earth.
The question is, what does this hold for the long term future of Sketchup. Will a free version be maintained? Or will Trimble aim to make profit from the incredible program and end the free version. We can only speculate how many millions it cost them to purchase Sketchup. It’s only obvious they will be looking for a return on their investment.
Hopefully, they will continue to offer a free version and continue to develop the professional version to compete with more advanced design software. Remember, this isn’t the first time Sketchup has traded hands. It was first created by @last software, then purchased by Google in 2006.
I should note that they haven’t officially purchased Sketchup yet. But they expect to close on the deal sometime in the 2nd quarter of 2012.
Who is Trimble?
Trimble is best known for it’s GPS technology. Founded in 1978, they are based in Sunnyvale, CA and has offices in over 30 countries. They have reported revenues of $1.6 billion for 2011. The major industries they serve are land survey, construction, agriculture, transportation, telecommunications, asset tracking, mapping, utilities, mobile resource management, and government.
I have personally known Trimble for their Trail Mapping Service website. It’s like a souped up Google maps. But besides showing roads, it shows off-road trails, hiking trails, etc. I’ve used it a few times while hiking in Maine. They offer a number of ipad/iphone/android apps to compliment TrimbleOutdoors.
We can all speculate what their intentions are for Sketchup. I believe this will be a good thing and look forward to what the future holds.
Why would Google sell?
Google had built up Sketchup with the intentions that people would fill up Google Earth with buildings, and they succeeded. Beyond that, Sketchup was really a side project for them in the grand scheme of things. They probably never really had intentions of getting into the 3D modeling industry, and feel they can be more profitable in other markets.
By selling it to a company like Trimble, I’m sure they feel they are handing over the reins into good hands. Trimble has plenty of experience in the construction industry and I feel like they will add a lot of valuable experience to the enhancement of Sketchup. I can’t wait to see what improvements they make.
And thank you to Google for making Sketchup what it is today. You’ve done a fine job. Now, Trimble, we’re all looking at you!
What do you think of the recent acquisition? Leave a comment below.