Randall Newton is reporting on his AECnew.com Web site that Google has acquired @Last software. It's not April 1, so perhaps this bizzzzzzarre news is true...
Mr Newton plans to have a fuller report on his Web site later today....
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There is a truce between Microsoft and CAD vendors. Microsoft does not get into CAD in exchange for most CAD vendors using Windows APIs exlusively, thus locking CAD users into Microsoft operating systems.
But no such truce is in place with today's microsoft, Google.
(Microsoft made a few half-hearted attempts to get into CAD. In the late 1980s, it resold FastCAD for awhile, although I think mostly to promote its then-new mouse. In the mid-1990s, it bundled a version of Intergraph's SmartSketch (aka Imagineer Technical) on an optional CD. And it nearly owned IntelliCAD through its purchase of Visio.)
Here's the press release at the @Last Website....
... and a semi-official comment at the official Google blog.
What puzzled me, however, is the rationale. The only explanation seems to be: SketchUp is 3D software, whose models can be placed into Google Earth. So what? Other CAD vendors have demonstrated the same ability.
It's also not clear how a piece of conceptual CAD software fits into Google's plan of making all information available to everyone. Of course, if Google Print were to buy out upFront.eZine Publishing, I wouldn't be rationalizing at all. Paraphrasing David Berlinski, your source of money has great influence on your philosophy. (Like me being ticked off at Google giving away Picasa after I paid full price for it.)
AtLast steals a line from Dassault Systemes: "3D for Everyone" is becoming a reality; we're bringing the '3D' part; Google's contributing the 'Everyone.'
So, CAD companies #1, #2, and #3: What's it like to be stood-up by the new microsoft, Google?
Items of interest from the FAQ:
+ On the one hand, the acquisiton fits in with Google making the world's information "universally accessible and useful", but unlike other Google products, SketchUp won't be free, still US$495 ($49 for education, free for educators). Bit of clash there, especially since the demo version runs for just 8 hours.
+ "Google recognized that the ability to design and communicate in 3D is an emerging need for their users." Yes, but did Google check whether SketchUp is the best product for that, I wonder?
+ The @Last Software name disappears, the SketchUp name stays. The purchase price is being kept secret, and the software remains standalone. No changes to support or licensing.
+ SketchUp will expand to areas outside of AEC.
The non-CAD world is more puzzled than me. Here, for example, is a comment from Om Malik's Blog:
They have just snapped-up Sketch Up, a tiny six-year old start-up that makes some sort of 3D software. I have never heard of them, which is my bad, but apparently the Mac people think it is the shizzle. Can someone explain what Google will do with this?