A SketchUp user posts an open letter to the SketchUp forums, lamenting @Last’s “sellout”. It generates a passionate debate. The main thrust of the complaint is that the vast majority of such acquisitions end up badly for the application and its user base, even if it enriches the core developers and the acquiror. Perhaps, perhaps not, but I don’t think anyone is arguing that this has been the case for Keyhole in the year it’s been with Google. So Perhaps Google should be the measure of such things, not Microsoft (and its Geotango acquisition, for example, where it simply took the product off the market.)
I’d be tempted to gloat that the SketchUp user’s loss is the Google Earth user’s gain, but this doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, so mercantilist notions don’t necessarily apply here: There is no reason why work on SketchUp 6 can’t continue while bits of its engine are copied over to Google Earth. (Imagine what you might do with SketchUp-like Ruby scripts running inside Google Earth for objects, layers and data…).