Sparrow, Google and Mail

Yesterday, Google acquired Sparrow, an excellent Mac and iOS email client that I have been using for months. The Verge later confirmed that the team does “not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps.” As someone who was eagerly awaiting native push notifications for their iPhone app and the forthcoming Sparrow for iPad, I was a bit bummed1 to hear that my favorite mail client had effectively been shut down.

Today, Matt Gemmel posted a piece that breaks down the many wrong-headed reactions to the acquisition and offers a bit of perspective on the indie dev business:

Sparrow’s acquisition is a success story. Indie devs make a great product, build a customer-base, and are rewarded with a buy-out from a big company and they get new jobs with that company. It might not be what your particular goal or end-game is, but it is a success. I’m really happy for them.

I loved every word of his piece. Spot on, Matt.


I have a very awkward relationship with Google. For the longest time I was convinced the company could do no wrong and that they were the company that made tools I want to use. That all took a nosedive around the time Eric Schmidt started saying weird things about privacy. And so I’ve long tried to unhinge myself from their products, finding that I always come back to them in the end for this reason or that. When it comes to Gmail, Sparrow has been part of the reason I have stuck around.

Sparrow is really a Gmail client that also supports vanilla IMAP and POP accounts. With Sparrow, I never really had to worry about the oddities that creep up when using Apple Mail with a Gmail account. Drafts would always be saved to the right place, labels worked the way I wanted them to and archiving messages actually archived them reliably. Now I need to go back to Apple Mail and figure out how to make things work properly.

The app’s tight integration with Gmail makes Google’s acquisition a no-brainer. Yet it gives me pause. Google may use the talent at Sparrow to change Gmail’s mobile apps, or perhaps they will use them to make the web interface better. I don’t know. What I do know is that Sparrow’s current apps will depreciate fast, so I need to switch email clients. And that makes me want to reconsider why I’m sticking with Gmail anyway.

For now, I have my reasons to keep Gmail, but I’m shopping around, if you have any suggestions.