I was just catching the end of the live press conference "The Next Dimension of Google Maps." What they showed looks very cool-- a high res automated 3D model of San Francisco, complete with modeled trees, buildings, and terrain.
Unlike the current situation, where many user generated models of varying styles with different lighting schemes collide in a potluck of 3D goodness, the new style map, or the new Google Earth, is modeled as one unified seamless mesh. It's as if you're looking at the real thing.
I'm not sure where that leaves us geo-modeling enthusiasts. Maybe the large cities will receive this 'next dimension' treatment (rendering our current handmade models obsolete)-- but possibly the countryside will be ours to model yet?
Maybe maybe maybe. It's all speculation on my part but I am very curious to know what this new direction, and the sale of SketchUp along with it, means to me and other geo-modelers worldwide.
EDIT: Read the official statement in the 3D modeling for Google Earth and Maps Forum