Google Acquires @last software makers of SketchUp 3D software



Google recently acquired a Boulder, CO based software company called @last which are the makers of the 3D modelling software Sketup. Details can be found here. Here is the official google blog entry.

This move marks a different strategy from Google in that all the acquisitions to date have basically resulted in making the products free. For examples of this just see Picasa, Keyhole(used for Google Earth which is free), and more recently Measure Map(which is being integrated into Google Analytics, also free).

SketchUp on the other hand mentions the following on its new Google FAQ:

SketchUp continues to be $495. There are currently no plans to change the pricing model of SketchUp or to offer it for free.

What does this mean in terms of advertising and marketing in the new “2.0” world? Well its about owning real estate that can later be monetized for advertising purposes. A perfect example of Google leveraging their current properties can be seen at the recent HBO Google Maps mashup promoting the Sopranos. Another great execution can be found at the RunLondon site featuring a mashup of Google Maps and Nike. This doesnt even begin to scratch the surface of all the Google Maps mashups that are out there thanks to the release of their API.

By owning and operating in the 3D space on top of their Google Maps and Google Earth applications they can continue their mission of “organizing the worlds information”, but also monetize the process along the way. From the level of detail and smart integration I see possible from combining the powers of SketchUP with Google Earth, its clear that putting advertising within this space cannot be far behind. Imagine being able to virtually walk down your street or shopping center for leisure or business purposes – this world could only be made more real by integrating colorfull textures and graphics which will inevitably lead to ads. After all, no one wants to walk down a virtual reality street filled with 3D boxes with no graphics – this idea failed in the late 90’s with the first VR apps. I see this space evolving quickly and becoming an exciting part of the world of advertising.

What is SketchUP? Well in their own words:

SketchUp is a deceptively simple, amazingly powerful tool for creating, viewing, and modifying 3D ideas quickly and easily. SketchUp was developed to combine the elegance and spontaneity of pencil sketching with the speed and flexibility of today’s digital media.

From my understanding it is basically a way for designers to turn their ideas into a 3D reality with ease. The program offers a free 8-hour demo preview – then you must purchase it as described above for $495. I can explain this program as literally making your 2D sketches come to life. I was amazed at this video that I saw from the site, detailing what SketchUp can do. It supports a full spectrum of designer file types and can import and export to many different formats too.

It appears that the partnership was a result of the folks at @last software working with SketchUp were able to get the attention of the people at Google Earth and Google Maps, by introducing some creative plugins and other ideas. Once the teams realized they could work better on things together – the deal was put together.

[tags] SketchUp, @last, Google Maps, Google Earth,, measure map, google analytics, picasa, google, google acquisition, Run London, Nike, Mashups, API, Google Sopranos, 3D imagery, Virtual Reality [/tags]

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