It seems a little odd, coming only a few days after the purchase of Writely, which itself made a lot of sense as part of Google’s unannounced-but-everyone-thinks-they-know-about-it plan for a browser-based productivity suite to compete directly with MS Office.
Odd because SketchUp is not the kind of app you could remodel to work in a browser. So if it’s not a part of the Google Office suite, why else is Google so keen to own it?
In the SketchUpdate newsletter sent out to registered users today, Brad Schell, founder of @Last Software, gave away this enlightening snippet about the background to the buyout:
Here’s the story. We got to know a bunch of Googlers while we were building the Google Earth Plugin for SketchUp, and it quickly became apparent that we could really stir things up together. At first, it was kind of hard to imagine; after all, we’d been blazing our own trail for so long. But after we kicked it around awhile, it started to seem right.
Google’s resources will allow us to serve our current users better, and Google’s reach will allow us to expose more people to SketchUp in one year than we could have touched in ten years on our own. “3D for Everyone” is becoming a reality; we’re bringing the 3D part; Google’s contributing the “Everyone.”
Could it be that Google is so keen to expand the features of Google Earth that it is willing to spend money - a lot of money, I’d guess - on buying the makers of SketchUp? If this is not the primary reason for the purchase, that suggests that Google just wants to own all kinds of cool apps and development teams. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, what other applications and software developers might be on Google’s shopping list next?
If a company we all thought was about “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful” is so interested in buying 3D design software, what else might it want to buy? Makers of text editors? Photo management apps? Coding environments? Games? Rather popular personal audio software?