Has Google Sold SketchUp Down The River?

9/14/2012 8:51:52 AM

Google has sold SketchUp, the 3D visu­alisation and modelling tool it acquired in 2006. The company said in a statement that SketchUp had been acquired by corporate consultants Trimble Navigation for an un­disclosed sum.

‘In Trimble, we found a partner that will grow SketchUp in a way that best supports the SketchUp team and our users,’ said Google vice president of engineering Brian McClendon. ‘SketchUp is a hugely popular tool with millions of Mac and PC users worldwide, thanks partly to the fact that there are both free and paid-for versions.’

Description: Has Google Sold SketchUp Down The River?

Has Google Sold SketchUp Down The River?

Trimble promised it would maintain a free version of the app. ‘We plan to continue making our tools for the building professions as innovative, intuitive and, dare 1 say, fun to use as we always have,’ SketchUp product manager John Bacus said in a blog post.

One key element of the product that will remain partially under Google’s control is SketchUp Warehouse, a repository of millions of 3D models for use in SketchUp projects. ‘SketchUp and the corresponding 3D Warehouse provide an important element of our long-term strategy by enhancing the integration of our field presence with the wider enterprise,’ said Trimble vice president Bryn Fosburgh, gnomically.

The California-based company special­ises in helping organisations improve the productivity of field workers, and develops tools that use GPS and position data for industries such as surveying, construction, agriculture. It said the SketchUp engine would be integrated into its tools in the engineering and construction industries, among others.

Trimble’s ‘enterprise’ focus, however, seems distant from the consumer-oriented approach that’s made SketchUp the choice of thousands of users who’d never previously attempted 3D modelling.

Description: Trimble


James Fee, chief evangelist for location Sendees company WeoGeo, blogged: ‘This doesn’t change SketchUp’s awesomeness, but I’m wondering what the future holds... The tea leaves say this means that SketchUp will transition away from free and the cheap­skates need to pony up.’

Google has shut down several services in recent years, including Google Labs, its social network Buzz, and most recently Wave, a real-time messaging platform that didn’t take off. Shortly after assuming the role of CEO last summer, co-founder Larry Page said he wanted to improve the company’s focus and put ‘more wood behind fewer arrows.’ The strategy echoes that of Steve Jobs, who ruthlessly pruned projects on his return to Apple in 1997, telling indignant users: ‘Focus isn’t about saying yes. Focus is about saying no.’

Now senior MPs back student in US copyright extradition row

Liberal democrat president Tim Fallon has described plans to extradite Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer as ‘ludicrous.’ Fallon called on the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to ‘take a very strong stand on protecting civil liberties’ and review her decision.

Conservative backbenchers have also been critical, calling O’Dwyer’s possible extradition a ‘thorn in the side of the special relationship.’

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials claim O’Dwyer infringed copyright when a website he ran, TV Shack, provided links to unlicensed films and TV programmes. ICE claims TV Shack earned $220,500 in advertising rev­enue before it seized the domain in June 2010, but it’s unclear that merely linking can infringe copyright. If found guilty in a US court, O’Dwyer could face up to five years in prison.

His extradition was sought un­der the 2003 Act, which requires US authorities to show' ‘reasonable suspicion’ to demand a suspect be sent to them for trial, while the UK must show ‘probable cause’ to request extradition the other way. The terms have been criticised as asymmetrical.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has urged the Government to renegotiate the treaty, describing it as ‘unbalanced.’ And Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has asked senior Lib Dem MP Menzies Campbell to conduct a review. Clegg said earlier this year it was ‘perfectly legitimate’ to ask if more British citizens could be tried here rather than in the US.

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