Google is known for making and buying things, so there was some surprise when the company announced today that it is selling longtime asset Sketchup, a 3-D modeling service known for its ease of use aimed at architects, game and film designers, and hobbyists.
Sketchup will be acquired by GPS navigation company Trimble, which plans to use the technology to bolster its architectural and engineering efforts.
“Trimble has already created the de-facto standard for field data models and project management tools for our key markets,” said Trimble vice president Bryn Fosburgh, in a press release. “SketchUp, together with these existing capabilities, will provide a stand-alone and enterprise solution that will enable an integrated and seamless workflow to reduce rework and improve productivity for the customer.”
It’s not yet clear what kind of push, if any, Trimble will make to mobilize users around a new platform based on Sketchup, or how many new products it intends to create using the Sketchup tool set. Fosburgh hinted at a range of hobbyist- and industry-oriented applications for Sketchup, including collaborative and data collection projects.
Google, for its part, has made pains not to alienate existing Sketchup users. Architectural and structural models made in Sketchup can be submitted for inclusion on Google Earth, an implementation that is expected to remain after the acquisition. Trimble will also continue to offer a free version of the software, which will still be accessible at sketchup.google.com.
The acquisition will “will benefit everyone – our product, our team and especially our millions of users,” wrote Sketchup product manager John Bacus.
The Sketchup team seems to be trying to move beyond whatever baggage comes with being unloaded by a web hoarder like Google, making the case that it’ll be able to better serve users at its new home.
“We’ll be better able to focus on our core communities: modelers who have been with us from the beginning, as well as future SketchUppers who have yet to discover our products,” Bacus wrote. “Designers, builders and makers of things have always been the heart and soul of SketchUp.”