Weird birds together: Google and Sparrow


Sparrow on iPad

The news of Google’s purchase of the 5-person Sparrow team struck me as a bit odd. Sure, they’ve done some great things in email with their native iPad app, but the concept that they were purchased “to bring polish, ‘beauty’, and ease of use to all of its Gmail experiences” isn’t jiving. Google has been in email for a long time now and they have a lot of really smart people working on it. It wouldn’t be hard to reverse-engineer anything that anyone is doing in email (it’s not rocket science, after all). Why buy a team?

Some would say it’s a value-buy; $25 million is a drop in the bucket for the Mountain View giants. Others would say that they like to stay above board and if they really want a technology they wouldn’t just steal it, particularly from such a small company.

I think this has something to do with a key to the iPad interface that caught their eye. Call me paranoid, but nothing else seems to really fit. Here are the details from The Verge:

Today, Sparrow’s Dom Leca announced that his third party email client company had been purchased by Google, and we just talked to sources familiar with the situation. The talks have been ongoing for a while; Sparrow was well known, and our source said Google recognized that the five-person-team had a “lot of expertise in how to make mail communication really simple.” While we couldn’t get an exact number, we’re told that Sparrow was acquired for under $25 million, and that there wasn’t a bidding war surrounding the purchase. While our source couldn’t specify a timeline, the goal is to get the Paris-based Sparrow team in-house on the main Mountain View campus.

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