iPhone and Mac Gmail app, Sparrow, acquired by Google

iPhone and Mac Gmail app, Sparrow, acquired by Google

Sparrow, the elegant, delightful Gmail -- and general mail -- created for the Mac and brought over to the iPhone, has announced they've been acquired by Google. Sparrow CEO Dom Leca announced the deal on the Sparrow blog, saying in part:

Now we're joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision — one that we think we can better achieve with Google.

And in a more personal email sent out to users:

We will continue to make available our existing products, and we will provide support and critical updates to our users. However, as we’ll be busy with new projects at Google, we do not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps.

That last part is the kicker from a user perspective, and immediately brings a few thoughts to mind:

  1. Congratulations to Dom and the whole team at Sparrow. They made a great product and it got the biggest attention in the business.
  2. Once again, a small team of indie developers coded circles around a big company, and just like Instagram and Facebook, and Tweetie and Twitter, the big company was smart enough to notice and pounce on it.
  3. While it's still too early to tell about Instagram, Twitter absolutely destroyed any and all value Tweetie had, completely replacing the iPhone app, and leaving the iPad and Mac apps to languish as abandonware.
  4. If Google were smart, they'd keep Sparrow as wholly-owned, in-house competitor to the lackluster Gmail for iPhone app, and rather than allowing it to fall into a slow, maintenance-mode driven death (which is sounds like it's doing), they'd keep it vibrant and in active development. They'd let Sparrow be Sparrow.
  5. Sadly, given Google's abysmal track record with everything from Twitter-competitor Jaiku to the apps spun out of the Slide acquisition, it's probably better this way -- users get quick if brutal closure rather than false hope and drawn out disappointment.

Congrats again to Sparrow, and farewell!

Source: Sparrow blog

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Poll: Sparrow users, are you sticking with Sparrow for iPhone or switching to one of these alternatives?

There are 13 comments. Add yours.

Daniel0418 says:

Coded circles around Google is a bit of an overstatement don't you think? Gmail for Android is better than Sparrow and the web interface is a delight to use. That having been said, Gmail for iOS was a mess. I feel bad sparrow won't update their app further, but as a Gmail user, I look forward to a proper Gmail app on iOS and OSX. I happy the indie dev has money and a new job though.

thegadgeteur says:

Talking about an iOS app here. Gmail for Android does not apply (but yes, it is very good on Android). For iOS, Gmail is no where near as nice as Sparrow and that's the sad part.

OrionAntares#CB says:

I'm curious as to why that is. Unless there is some kind of platform limitation with iOS it seems more like they don't really care that much about making a decent iOS Gmail app.

iArnie says:

With no PC support and no push notifications, Sparrow had a limited user base. I bought it and deleted it the same day. I'll stick with the Gmail app and hope the Sparrow developers make it better.

Dev from tipb says:

I love Sparrow for iOS -- IMHO, it kicks the crap out of both iOS Gmail and Apple's native Mail.app. I am hoping that part of the "bigger vision" is an option 4a) Rene did not mention -- declare the in-house competition over, release a re-themed Sparrow as Gmail for iOS.next, after incorporating Gmail's notification infrastructure to Sparrow. It sounds like that is not in the cards. But it should be.

If Google is sunsetting Sparrow altogether, at the very least we can say that they acquired a team who *really* understands how to design and implement an efficient, task-focused mobile UI. It remains to be seen if that bigger vision is worth the knifing of a truly great email app.

Edit:
TheVerge is reporting that the Sparrow team will be joining the Gmail team, which could mean that native Gmail apps are going to be replaced (or at least heavily informed) by Sparrow.

http://www.theverge.com/2012/7/20/3172365/sources-google-sparrow-25-mill...

(crossing fingers)

FunkyDog says:

Crap! Looks like I've just wasted some hard-earned cash on an app that's going to be extinct on my iPhone.

emjayess says:

I don't use anything Google except search (without signing in). Bought Sparrow months ago, but as soon as I saw it wouldn't really replace the stock Mail on my iMac (no POP), I never used it. But I kept it on my Mac and phone, waiting to see if Apple improved Mail or Sparrow improved. Sparrow was almost there, but now that they've gone to the Dark Side, I just deleted it forever.

LCW says:

i guess it's all out way between google and apple... i bet google bought sparrow just to spite apple... knowing it was a popular ios email app.... very polarizing.... google is becoming less and less 'agnostic'... especially now publicly admitting they are in the hardware game now...

johncblandii says:

I'm not nearly as pessimistic as you on this one, Rene. I'm excited to see the guys win out with a purchase and, most importantly, excited to see Mail for iOS [maybe even OSX] be relegated to my Apple bloatware folder on my iPad once the new Gmail [with Sparrow sprinkled throughout] comes out.

This is all positive to me; especially considering Sparrow for OSX isn't that hot in the first place [looks great but is limited due to push so I stick with Mail].

LCW says:

Apple should have seen this coming and bought Sparrow themselves!!! The iOS mail app isn't bad, and has come a long way, but is still FAR from great... Maybe Apple should outright buy Yahoo ;)

NexSciences says:

Nexscience announces the new application for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch for the management of documents.

Santa Clara, California

July 18th, 2012 — Mobile smart phones are changing the way we live, socialize and do our businesses. Our phones have replaced many other once-common tools, from GPS devices to handheld gaming consoles, notebooks, calendars, point-and-shoot cameras, newspapers and portable audio players.
At a local technology event in San Jose, Nexscience, a California based startup, announced the release of a new mobile application 'Document Manager' for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app is the latest in a series of innovative ideas introduced to the Apple users by the developer community.

Nexscience now introduces Document Manager, a new application available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Document Manager allows users to transfer files from their PC or Mac via a USB cable, through Wi-Fi and external systems like Google Docs and Dropbox. Users can view MS Office Documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), PDF files, unzip .rar and .zip files.

You can also print documents through Air Print printer, save documents from the internet or save a whole webpage in your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. With TXT, RTF and HTML formats available, you can also read variety of books anytime you want. Document Manager also allows users to download Email attachments with the 'Open In' feature and share documents through emails directly from the application.

Application Download:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/document-manager-download/id491630154?ls=...

TechnationRD says:

I used Sparrow for a while, but I have moved back to iMailG which is really fast for GMail

Danquack says:

Really hoping with this acquisition they can add push notifications to the app!