The spring cleaning that has been going on at Google is more thorough than I had anticipated. They are passing on Sketchup. Official announcement is here.

Unlike the other services Google has been shuttering, Sketchup has been a very popular product (though probably not commercially succesfull), and consquently is not being closed. Rather Google is passing on the baton to Trimble. In fact, Sketchup was so succesfull with the average user, that e.g. AutoDesk have created their own version of a free 3D modeller.

This move is quite surprising to me, because of the strategic importance Sketchup appeared to have, until now at least. Sketchup has so far been the way to create structured content for Google Earth and thereby Google Maps. With the handoff of Sketchup, Google is relinquishing total control of this content creation value chain, which suggests that they're no longer aiming for at full 3D model of our physical world.

With the development Google Maps has seen, at the comparable standstill of Google Earth, it seems reasonable that Google Earth will eventually go away, when Google Maps reaches feature- and performance parity.

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26 April 2012