Why did Trimble buy Sketchup?


As some of you might have noticed, Trimble bought Sketchup from Google just a few weeks back.

Although Sketchup still has a Google URL, this will probably soon change. But the big question remains: How much more will change?

Those of us who have used (or tried to use) Sketchup for professional work, has for a long time been aware of the lacking interest and new development on Sketchup, and many had wondered whether Google had given up on their 3D visions. So it comes as no surprise that they were willing to find a new home for Sketchup. And who wouldn’t like a software that’s used by 2 mio people each week.

But Trimble!

Trimble is best known for making instruments for construction site measuring and GPS technology for the construction industry, so what do they wan’t with a 3D sketching tool ‘for the masses’.

But as Randall Newton point out in his article in ‘Graphic Speak’, Trimble might have big, big BIM plans.

It seems that Sketchup is just the latest of Trimbles purchases in the 3D/BIM category, and that they have a stategy of becomming the biggest BIM software provider for the Contractors, a group generally lacking attention by the big software houses in the construction industry such as Autodesk, Bentley and Graphisoft.

But even so I have to ask: Why Sketchup?

Not that I don’t like the idea of a cheap, easy to use BIM software, but those of us BIM idealists who has been working with Sketchup are very well aware of how far Sketchup is from being a piece of BIM software. Yes. Sketchup is a 3D software, and yes, Sketchup has ‘intelligent’ components, but two turkeys does not make an eagle!

I think the only way to make Sketchup a BIM software is a total rethinking of it’s core and basic functionalities, and re-writing of the code. Not that this is in any way an impossible task, but why not just make a new peice of software instead of buying one that doesn’t do what you want it to.

I guess the answer is they bought the brand and the users, not the software. With the Sketchup brand they don’t have to start up as ‘yet another 3D program’. And I guess Google was more than willing to sell at a not too heigh price.

But the question still remains: Is Sketchup the right Brand to own if the contractors are your clients?

Anyway, we are looking forward to seeing what the future brings for ‘BIM Sketchup’.

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Tore Hvidegaard, Arkitekt MAA

Partner i 3dbyggeri danmark, og arbejder til dagligt med integration af nye digitale værktøjer i byggebranchen. Har gennem en årrække arbejdet som praktiserende arkitekt og underviser i CAD, 3D og visualisering.

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