So a tech product I love is no more. Sparrow - an email client for OS X and iPhone has been 'acquired by Google' and there will be 'no new features' added.

This isn't good news because Sparrow on the Mac has made email simple and a pleasure to use. No other client I've used does this. Thunderbird (also now nearing obsoletion) is too cumbersome and I find Apple's counterintuitive. Sparrow has made email more like Twitter and I've loved it. For now, I don't think there's an alternative I'm going to like.

Entitlement culture, blah.

Yes, I know that the makers of Sparrow don't owe me anything. All I could expect in return for my purhcase was software that worked as advertised on the operating system version it was written for. I get that.

Also, I'm happy that the talented team have made a deal they're no doubt very satisfied with. They deserve success. If working for Google is following their bliss, good on them.

With hindsight it seems obvious that software that started as an elegant window to Gmail and nothing but Gmail might just have been developed with the aim of being bought by the makers of Gmail.


The makers of Sparrow contiunally announced that they were working on future enhancements, such as push notifications for their iOS version. They actively developed a relationship with their customers with these announcements. I don't like that this isn't really acknowledged now they're abandoning development.

It doesn't help matters that thay had a 50% off sale a week before this announcement. That looks really suspicious now.

I also hate the PR spin.

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

No it hasn't.

For users, 'Sparrow' means the software, not the company or the people who made it. Sparrow itself has been killed, not acquired.

We get that you're excited. We're not. We're happy for you, but unhappy for us.

As Harry McCracken observes in Time:

Google and Facebook buy itty-bitty web companies all the time. And the acquired businesses typically convey what’s happening in an eerily consistent five-step ritual:

  1. Announcement of thrilling acquisition
  2. Reiteration of startup’s wildly ambitious founding notion
  3. Explanation that either Google or Facebook is the best place to change the world
  4. Acknowledgement (or sometimes non-acknowledgement) that the startup’s product is being discontinued or is going into limbo
  5. Expression of heartfelt gratitude to various supporters, usually including the consumers who are losing their something they liked