Now, that took me by surprise: On April 26th, Google announced that it will sell Sketchup to Trimble. In a statement on the Google SketchUp blog, SketchUp Product Manager John Bacus promises that they will further provide a free version of Sketchup and that it will appeal to various target groups while focusing on architecture, engineering and construction industries. However, an immediate implication is the transfer of licenses and personal data to Trimble including non-geolocated (!) 3D models in the Google Warehouse (geo-located models submitted before the closing date belong with Google but Trimble gets a license to use them in the future). I am not a lawyer but it shows how quickly data could change owners these times… Today, the 3D warehouse models we constructed were owned by Google, tomorrow they will be owned by Trimble (who develops, unlike Google, military systems as well).
Other than that, I tend to be slightly optimistic that Sketchup will keep being one of my favorite tools as Trimble has a good reputation in GPS and surveying. I still remember my undergraduate studies where we already used Trimble equipment… Lately, Trimble seems to diversify and has shown an enormous appetite for buying various companies specialized in aerial data collection, CAD and GIS software, mobile systems, laser scanning, photogrammetry, and even UAV and RFID technology. Well, I hope that Trimble will further professionalize SketchUp without loosing its amazing intuition that revolutionized 3D modeling.