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back to article Mystery as Google offloads SketchUp 3D drawing tool

Google has decided that the 3D modelling business is non-core and has sold its SketchUp tool to spatial specialist Trimble. SketchUp was a free download and offers users the chance to make 3D models of just about anything, either by building them from scratch or by downloading them from Google's Warehouse of user-generated 3D …

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Free... yes, the basic version.

The pro version (in many variants it's 8h free pro-trial, then reverting to basic) costs $500/person, not a freebie by any standard.

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Re: Free... yes, the basic version.

Believe me, Trimble know how to charge- $500 will seem like the greatest bargain ever as soon as the Trimble Beancounters finish their job.

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@Marvin Re: Free... yes, the basic version.

"The pro version (in many variants it's 8h free pro-trial, then reverting to basic) costs $500/person, not a freebie by any standard."

Yep - but have you used the free version ? The functionality in it is substantial and the differences between it and the 'Pro' version largely irrelevant to non-professionals. Sketchup tool interactions and usage models are also (IMO) second to none. It is a staggering piece of software for free, that is costs should I want the more advanced features (e.g. for real client-side architectural work, rather than my own stuff) I don't find out of order - the price is still not that high in the context of this type of design software and, frankly, there's nothing else like it for basic 3D work (again, IMHO).

Also, there are a number of extremely good renderers available for not much cost that integrate with both versions of Sketchup, so the visualisation is not that effected by which you choose.

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Why Did Google Sell SketchUp? Impact to 3D Printing

The simple answer is focus. As founder and new CEO Larry Page wrote in his 2012 update to investors, ”Since becoming CEO again, I’ve pushed hard to increase our velocity, improve our execution, and focus on the big bets that will make a difference in the world.”

SketchUp apparently is not included in Google’s big bets.

Google’s move is surprising to those who believe 3D printing is at an inflection point and will be a disruptive force on our global supply chain by empowering a new generation of product creators.

Although SketchUp was not necessarily the best design software for 3D printing, it was one of the most popular free 3D design software packages on the planet and inspired many people to get into design. Google has now lost that audience.

Perhaps SketchUp was too technical of a product for the mainstream. Should we prepare for a new 3D modeling software from Google?

http://on3dprinting.com/2012/04/30/why-google-sold-sketchup-and-what-it-means-for-3d-printing/

@on3dprinting

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MJI
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Re: Why Did Google Sell SketchUp? Impact to 3D Printing

Definately wrong time.

I am investigating CAD at the moment, I was going to get this as it is supposed to be pretty good.

There is definately an increase in CAD in the modelling hobby, companies providing 3D printing, and also artwork for etching companies.

I want a rare unmodelled railway vehicle - draw up the artwork and send off to an etching company. want a small scale tram body - 3D printing company.

This is just starting to explode, and this is the wrong time for google to sell off CAD.

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Re: Why Did Google Sell SketchUp? Impact to 3D Printing

But do they really need Sketchup to get into the 3d print market, Google cloud print services would be a better entry point into the 3d printing market and providing integration into many different 3D modelling tools.

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Happy

I entered my town into the 2012 Model Your Town comp, got an email saying I'll be getting a gift from Google for my contribution to the community. Still waiting for it.

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"Your prize is a free signup to Google+"

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Facepalm

quite a surprising sale, as I remember alot of people getting into modelling because of the simplicity of the free version compared to the complexity of something like 3Ds max. Alot of engineers and architects used it and I thought it was pretty popular due to the time it took to make a model for the relatively high quality result you could create.

It was just so dam fiddly

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sketchup and 3d printing?

Sketchup seems better geared to the sort of model that you would print onto cardboard (2d), then cut and fold into the desired shape- like the buildings that were available for model railways. The advantages are lower cost, photographic surface appearance, and a bigger maximum size; the trade-off is the loss of fine 3D detail (that sketchup isn't really geared for).

There is still the open-source Blender suite for 3D fun- I can't comment on how easy it is to use, but it would appear to be customisable to suit the user.

Meanwhile, in the entry-level professional space... Rhino seems well geared towards home users (I could see a 'Rhino LE' being bundled with 3d printers) with lots of useful tools and wide import/export format support.

Some of the higher-end traditionally parametric packages ( for mechanical engineering, rather than designing aliens or orcs) are beginning to incorporate 'direct editing' functionality. This is because shuttling models back and forth between, say, Rhino and Solidworks is already an established workflow in some sectors (where you want a free-form sculpted surface on top of a rigorously engineered chassis, for example) .

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MJI
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Re: sketchup and 3d printing?

2D - or now make layers for brass etching, new growth market

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Facepalm

Re: sketchup and 3d printing?

The free Blender can do some fantastic things but like the unix tools vi and sendmail, its user friendly but its very picky about who its friends are.

I've had to abandon changes to models because I got them in a mode where I just couldn't continue to edit them or find a way to export them and reimport them so that I could.

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shame...

i created my house whilst learning CAD but the 3d element was terrible to use. sketchup was so much simpler and quicker. i designed my house renovation using it.

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I do not think it a shame Sketchup has left Google and been sold to another company, at least it survive intact and will still be available. Hopefully the new company will invest money into it and expand the capabilities of the program in the future. We can assume for now that its integration with Google Earth will stay and Google will maintain a close relationship with Trimble.

Hopefully Sketchup will continue to gain fans long into the future.

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Not so sudden

In an organization the size of Google, you can't expect all departments and BUs and low level employees to be kept informed of such strategic decisions. The people handing out awards may have been completely unaware because they were not in the "need to know" group. Those folks are performing a related function and I'm sure they'll either find new roles in Google or move to Trimble.

It is a shame to see the product leave Google though. Probably the easiest 3D modeling tool I've ever used. I think it is the right decision and Google needs to trim down to core revenue generating business, in particular the mobile and entertainment divisions. Anything that drives digital consumerism.

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Anonymous Coward

"SketchUp was a free download"

It still is available - the past tense implied it wasn't available:

http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/download/gsu.html

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i wonder if....

this new company will pay tax in the UK? :)

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Anonymous Coward

Dear "Editor"

IT'S = IT IS

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