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SketchUp buy adds to Trimble's dimension

Trimble Navigation Ltd said its proposed acquisition of Google Inc's 3D modeling software SketchUp will add more depth to its product offering, likely bumping up its 2013 revenue.

"It won't have a material effect on Trimble earnings in 2012 but we would expect it to have a progressively beneficial effect from 2013 onwards," Chief Executive Steven Berlund said.

SketchUp, which was bought by Google in 2006 and was integrated with Google Earth, has millions of active users in architects, engineers, game developers and filmmakers, who use the software to create and share their 3D content.

Trimble now plans to make money from SketchUp by bundling it with its existing 3D tools sold mostly to construction and geospatial companies, and government agencies, CEO Berlund said.

"I would see it more as being part of a bigger picture that would be revenue generating," Berlund said.

Trimble will also partner with Google on running and further developing SketchUp's 3D Warehouse -- an online repository where users can find, share, store and collaborate on 3D models.

"In terms of the product as it exists now, which is primarily a free product, we will continue to support and develop the product for its existing user base," the CEO said.

Google had made SketchUp available for free, so it was able to reach a broader audience and have that user participation, William Blair analyst Jonathan Ho said.

The company agreed to buy SketchUp on Thursday, but Berlund declined to disclose the purchase price and said that discussions with Google to buy the platform had been going on for many months.

Trimble, which has a market value of about $6.80 billion, has acquired close to eight companies in the last one year to feed its growth.

Sunnyvale, California-based Trimble's biggest acquisition was Finnish software company Tekla Oyj, whose software was used to create models of the new Wembley Stadium in London and three stadiums for the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa.

Tekla expanded Trimble's expertise in building information modeling software that helps contractors and engineers plan and manage construction projects.

Trimble's shares have gained about 27 percent in value since its acquisition of Tekla in May last year.

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