Google buys Mac/iOS email client Sparrow, say good-bye to new features

By , Jul 20, 2012

Dang, Google just acquired the popular Mac and iOS email client Sparrow. The value of the transaction or terms of the deal have not been made public, though The Verge thinks Google paid under $25 million for Sparrow. According to a blog post announcing the acquisition, this deal will help the Sparrow team “accomplish a bigger vision”, one the team says  “can better achieve with Google”. Hopefully that means buying some notification servers, though Sparrow’s email to customers is anything but encouraging. Full details below…

Here’s from Sparrow CEO Dom Leca:

We’re excited to announce that Sparrow has been acquired by Google!

We care a lot about how people communicate, and we did our best to provide you with the most intuitive and pleasurable mailing experience.

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

We’d like to extend a special thanks to all of our users who have supported us, advised us, given us priceless feedback and allowed us to build a better mail application. While we’ll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users.

We had an amazing ride and can’t thank you enough.

Full speed ahead!
Dom Leca
CEO
Sparrow

Sparrow provides arguably the best Gmail experience on both Mac and iOS, despite some shortcomings. Google, on the other hand, launched its native Gmail client for the iPad and iPhone last November.

The initial version was a disgrace. Though Google fixed flaws and introduced interesting new features via free updates,  Gmail for iOS is nearly as popular as Sparrow because it’s basically just a mobile page wrapped inside iOS code.

Sparrow got support for POP accounts last month and promised native iPad version soon. Unfortunatelly, the popular program falls short in push notifications for new email messages. It’s not the company’s fault as that’s a big no-no under Apple’s rules.

The Sparrow team indicated that push notifications are being worked on, utilizing its own notification server. The problem is, pushing possibly millions of alerts each day via custom servers as opposed to delivering those through Apple’s servers conceivably requires significant investment in own server infrastructure.

No wonder Sparrow said push notifications will arrive on a yearly subscription basis.

Hopefully Google will pay for those servers and continue developing Sparrow as a standalone, paid app. I even don’t want to mention the other possibility (but you can, down in the comments).

According to an email message Sparrow just sent to customers, the team will continue providing support and critical updates for the Sparrow apps, but will cease work on new features:

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.

I think this means they’ll integrate Sparrow tech into the Gmail app for iPhone and iPad. Google of course should be given the benefit of the doubt, but here’s to the hoping that we won’t have to start +1-ing our emails in Sparrow before we can respond to them.

A Google spokesperson reached out with a written statement:

The Sparrow team has always put their users first by focusing on building a seamlessly simple and intuitive interface for their email client. We look forward to bringing them aboard the Gmail team, where they’ll be working on new projects.

Dang, I bet you didn’t see coming, did you?

What now?

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  • http://twitter.com/leothelion96 Leonard Wong

    Really Unexpected! I was totally stunned.I just hope Google won’t make Sparrow get worse,since theirs is ;)

  • maurid

    So what does this mean for iOS users? It’s funny because they were just getting excited with this (relatively) new email app, and then it was taken like candy from a baby.

  • http://www.facebook.com/HGRDs Gerardo D. Aguirre

    They are killing it:

    “However, as we’ll be busy with new projects at Google, we do not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps.” that sucks!

    • billypuntove

      No way. Wow.

    • billypuntove

      It appears they’ve since then changed the announcement.
      Must have read all the reactions. It now reads:
      ” While we’ll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users.”

      It sounds like the same, just different wording. “We’ll fix the bugs but that’s about it”

      • http://twitter.com/andrewmunsell Andrew Munsell

        Keeping Sparrow available and providing email support has nothing to do with adding things like iPad support, push, or any new features– it’s still a dead product, which sucks.

      • billypuntove

        um.. How did my comment not reflect that same thing thing? :/
        Like I wrote, I sounds like the same thing they wrote before— no new features.

    • Ken Oliver

      Yes I picked up on that

      To me it says we take the money and run, we sold you an IOS product that was not complete,(no push) we continued to promise you we would fix it
      We didn’t fix it but sold it to Google during the time we were promising to fix it, and now we don’t have to fix it as we are working for Google
      So thanks for you cash were off

  • Kok Hean

    Seeing what they did with YouTube, I guess it’s going to be full of ads.

  • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

    We got a real battle going on here with Google and Apple!

  • http://twitter.com/michaelhernandy michael hernandy :)

    Thats just like Google to take something popular in iOS and claim it as their own.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1162278746 Ingmar Sdlr

      yeah, Apple doesn’t EVER do that.. go ask lots of the jailbreak developers.. Apple doesn’t steal ideas.. NEVER EVEr!!

      • http://twitter.com/michaelhernandy michael hernandy :)

        Exactly. :)

    • http://twitter.com/workaholocaust Michael

      Popular in iOS? I think you worded that wrong. It’s an app. Just like when Apple went and bought Siri Assistant. Same thing different company.

  • http://twitter.com/iKrill Antonio Santos

    This is BS, now Sparrow will be full of Adsense and they’ll probably track your emails, the amount of characters in them, the amount of words, if you replied, if read, the content, the amount of time taken to read the email.

    You don’t ask what Google does track, you ask what they don’t track.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1162278746 Ingmar Sdlr

      Paranoia any1? Do you really think Apple doesn’t do that too? GPS-Tracking any1?

      • http://twitter.com/iKrill Antonio Santos

        Oh I’m just kidding, I don’t care as long as the app works.

  • http://twitter.com/Mkhan1544 Muhammad Khan

    Google: An app that is better than ours?! Lets fix that
    Google: We are now announcing that we are buying Sparrow
    Google: *whispers* so it can die
    Google: MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

  • http://www.facebook.com/billy.graham.5836 Billy Graham

    bad news for people who bought the apps. lucky me that i use the cracked
    vers. now i can move on without any hard feelings…

  • http://twitter.com/Mkhan1544 Muhammad Khan

    Google: An app that is better than ours?! Lets fix that
    Google: We are now announcing that we are buying Sparrow
    Google: *whispers* so it can die
    Google: MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

  • Scott Whitlow

    Crap! No iPad app coming I guess! Dang it!

  • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

    Can’t blame em really. They’ve gotta do what’s best for them. Sad, still.

  • Patrick Cummins

    This could really suck if Sparrow is just left to die. I wouldn’t be too upset if they just incorporate the Sparrow interface into the Gmail app. Here’s to hoping that happens.

  • http://twitter.com/jOhNsKiEs Jonathan

    bullcrap!!! I love the app but now googles gonna come along and Eff this great app too..

  • http://thatsangel.com/ Angel

    Really upsetting given the near $15 I’ve invested between the Mac client and iPhone app. It’s obviously more important on my Mac, and still absolutely functional, but this sounds like I might need to start looking elsewhere for an ideal email solution.

    Maybe I should give the native Mail client another shot.

    • Andrew Cowling

      The native OSX mail client sucks. The iOS native app ain’t much better. I was about to invest in both, time to shelve that idea and see what google do to the product…

  • http://www.twitter.com/dieburnbot dieburnbot

    I’m more concerned that sparrow will be the main client on android phones and it’ll be taken down in all other markets altogether.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1849765376 Jordan Rushing

    WTF. I use Sparrow all the time on my iPhone…just freakin’ great. Another reason why I dislike Google…

  • seyss

    They killed Meebo now this. Bastards. People should realize Google is evil by now.

  • Nicolas Loots

    SAY WHAT?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1368694057 Jean Claude Tohme

    Ok, stop attacking Google like it’s some sort of freaking app destructive monster.
    Maybe they want to make it better, Hopefully Google cares about Windows, so they may put out Sparrow for Windows which maybe awesome if it’s going to be metro on Windows 8. Stop preparing for the worse, Google will work on Sparrow or may just put a new application which is better than Sparrow but based on it (take Instagram and Facebook camera for example.)

  • http://www.3sixtydegreescouting.com/ Greg Braddock

    I think everyone who purchased the sparrow app should demand a refund. This deal didn’t happen overnight and they essentially promised customers something they knew they couldn’t…wouldn’t be delivering.

  • http://twitter.com/Joechef_Reid joe reid

    I said it the day FB bought Instagram, Apple needs to double down on Sparrow. Losing our exclusive blockblusters left and right is dishearteneing

  • jvkeizer

    I hope Google doesn’t F up Sparrow!

  • http://twitter.com/tomdotcom_uk Tom

    I don’t get it. Why buy Sparrow just to close it down? I supposee that the only explanation is that Google wants to use a whole load of Sparrow’s features in the next Gmail app release.

  • http://twitter.com/oo7plasma Brandon

    Great Idea. Rename Sparrow to Gmail. Trash old Gmail app. Done.