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Google SketchUp & The Mapping Space Race

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Google SketchUp & The Mapping Space Race

Google SketchUp & The Mapping Space Race

Om Malik reports on Google’s acquisition of 3-D rendering company @Last Software, which owns SketchUp. He also asks what it means for Google. In a word: maps.

Here’s the company’s Google Earth plug in. Google Earth already does rudimentary 3-D rendering of cities. Companies like GeoSim are already well underway in developing rich 3-D maps of cities for online implementation. And Microsoft is heavily investing in the same thing — even though the mainstream user population is still at driving directions. SketchUp may in fact become Google’s answer to Windows Live Local’s Birds Eye photography.

When you get rich 3-D mapping up and running on the Internet there are all kinds of use cases and ad opportunities. Think about real estate or hotels/travel as two immediate examples that come to mind.

Here’s what Google’s new employee Jeff Martin has to say about it :

“When I went to sleep last night, I was employed by a small start-up called @Last Software. This morning, although I’m going to the same office, sitting at the same desk, and seeing the same people, I’m going to work as a Google employee.”

Here’s what SketchUp has to say:

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. One thing led to another, and here we are. This is one of those wonderful win-win situations; it would have been impossible for us to feel good about this acquisition if we didn’t feel our culture, our users and our mission would be in good hands.

(If you’ve never seen it, Google Earth lets you explore the world from your desktop and it’s free! Remember those flying dreams you had as a kid? This is it…only without the flannel pajamas; mine had those built in feet. Just type in where you want to go and this thing will fly you directly over the spot!)

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.’

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