It was a slow ride over to SketchUp subscription city but you saw the road signs along the way. First Trimble put SketchUp online bringing you SketchUp for Web. Then, in February 2019, they announced a subscription pricing option, retaining the perpetual license option. Now, they’ve announced a complete move to an annual subscription model with classic perpetual licenses and maintenance renewals no longer available after November 4th, 2020.

If you own a Classic Perpetual License today, you will be able to use the latest version you own in perpetuity. In addition, if you’d like to update your Classic Perpetual License, you can do that until November 4th, 2020Please be advised: if you purchase a Classic Perpetual License or renew your Maintenance & Support license prior to November 4, 2020, you will not be able to upgrade and access additional features on that license every year as you have in the past.

Why the Move to Subscription?

Subscription price models are popular among software companies who want to retain users, ditch maintenance fees, and offer simplified pricing. Some would say software subscriptions are inevitable, especially for web-based software. Some users will accept it as providing more value and others will reject the option of only renting the software and the requirements that go along with that. While there are some inherent benefits with licensing and staying up to date, the switch to subscription and removal of a perpetual license is bound to upset some.

Since they first offered subscription in 2019, their reason for providing and then moving to subscription was so they could use the “opportunity to challenge ourselves to earn your business every single day by constantly improving the tools you need and love throughout each year.” They reinforced that by saying the “team has always felt it is important to be generous with our products” and that “SketchUp was always meant to be accessible to everyone… and it still is.”

What Does a SketchUp Subscription Include?

 SketchUp Plan Comparison
 SketchUp FreeSketchUp ShopSketchUp ProSketchUp Studio
3D ModelerWebWebWeb + ShopWeb + Shop
Usable Offline
Sefaira
Cloud Storage10 GBUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
SupportForumForum, EmailForum, Email, PhoneForum, Email, Phone
ViewerStandard Model ViewerStandard + AR Mobile ViewerStandard + AR Mobile ViewerStandard + AR Mobile Viewer
XR Headset ViewingNoneNoneHololens, WMR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, SteamVRHololens, WMR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, SteamVR
InteroperabilityImport: SKP, STL Export: STL, PNGImport: SKP, STL, DWG, DXF, DAE, KMZ, 3DS, DEM Export: STL, DWG, DXF, DAE, KMZ, 3DS, FBX, XSI, OBJ, VRMLImport: SKP, 3DS, DAE, DEM, DDF, DXF, DWG, IFC, IFCZIP, KMZ, STL, BMP, JPG, PNG, PSD, TIF, TGA, PDF (Mac Only) Export: SKP, 3DS, DAE, DWG, DXF, FBX, IFC, OBJ, KMZ, STL, WRL, XSI, JPG, PNG, TIF, PDF (Mac Only ), EPSImport: SKP, 3DS, DAE, DEM, DDF, DXF, DWG, IFC, IFCZIP, KMZ, STL, BMP, JPG, PNG, PSD, TIF, TGA, PDF (Mac Only) Export: SKP, 3DS, DAE, DWG, DXF, FBX, IFC, OBJ, KMZ, STL, WRL, XSI, JPG, PNG, TIF, PDF (Mac Only ), EPS
ExtensibilityNoneNoneCore Ruby API & Extension WarehouseCore Ruby API & Extension Warehouse
2D DesignNoneNoneLayoutLayout
Custom Styles, Custom Materials, OutlinerNoneBasicAdvancedAdvanced
Style Builder
Dynamic Components
PriceFree$119 USD/YR$299 USD/YR$1199 USD/YR

Another reason they want to provide subscription is to include more features, products, and services that what is available with the classic desktop version alone. So, how does the classic desktop version of SketchUp compare to the subscription version of SketchUp Pro?

 SketchUp Classic vs Subscription
 Classic LicenseSketchUp Pro Subscription
3D ModelerSketchUp Pro (Desktop)SketchUp Pro (Desktop) + SketchUp Web
Cloud Storage1 Project, 10 GB Storage, 5 Project MembersUnlimited Projects, Unlimited Storage, Unlimited Project Members
ViewersSketchUp Viewer (Mobile)Mobile, AR + XR Viewer
SupportEmail, Phone (1 year)Email, Phone (Active Subscription)
Price$695 ($119/yr Maintenance)$299/YR

In cost alone, the continued cost for subscription goes higher that perpetual + maintenance at Year-4. However, that doesn’t take into the account the other features you get with a SketchUp Pro subscription.

However, in their explanation of upgrading, they say, “You can subscribe for a year, skip a year, renew every year — it’s up to you. Whatever you choose, you’ll always have the latest version with the newest features, receive (more) frequent product updates, and get access to technical support.”

If you skip a year and still get updates/support, isn’t that the same as… a perpetual license? Perhaps you can only skip one year. Some slight confusion there, Trimble.

Anyway, I now have multiple software subscriptions, so I’ve gone past the joy of keeping track of multiple activation codes and have fully switched to keeping track of multiple logins. You?

Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.