Sparrow’s Acquisition: My thoughts, or rant. Whichever one.
If you haven’t heard by now, our dear Sparrow has been acquired by Google. With that, ends the updates to their existing Mac and iOS applications, but not their vision for better email.
I’ve read dozens of tweets and tech blogs that expressed their disapproval of the acquisition. Yet, within the same articles and 140 characters, they showed their supposed ‘loyalty and commitment’ to Sparrow. Seems a bit ironic if you ask me.
But I digress.
Anyway, late Friday evening, I had a five minute rant on Twitter. In it, I explained my theory that everyone should simply leave Sparrow alone. They built an amazing application that, in its time, served us well. Yes, they’ve now moved on to higher mountains, but so what? That’s their decision. Besides, from what Leca, Hoà, and Denis have been reiterating throughout the interwebs this past weekend, the assault team of five hope to change things up at Google for the better. And you never know, we just might see a Sparrow influenced Gmail revamp in the coming months. After all, there’s no doubt that Google is up to something with that email engine of theirs (saw the new Gmail logo at Google I/O?).
In my rant, I made a few points.
Remember the terminology “acqui-hire?” Talent acquisition is the main reason behind most of these startup buyouts. Google wants the Sparrow team, not Sparrow. If they wanted the latter, they would have simply given Leca a lump some of cash in return for full ownership of the app, and further updates would have been available in the near future. But neither are happening. Besides, why would they want a product that exists because of one of theres (especially when they’ve created a “competitor”). Following? Instead, they want the people who built on their existing product better than they could.
The hypocrisy is absurd. Developers price the applications that they’ve spent months to years on for $0.99 to $9.99 – to put that in perspective, that’s a pack of Twizzlers and some good coffee – then we complain that the apps are too pricy. The funny part? When the company is bought out for its true value ($5M+), we complain that they’ve betrayed us. Bull.
If we give these ingenious app creators the financial security they deserve, maybe, just maybe, they’d see a longterm profit in their work and turn these tech giants down. But until then, don’t complain when Google or Facebook show up in front of their door and offer them million dollar buyouts (and in some cases, well paying jobs).
Developers, if you know it’s worth it, charge for your product. Sparrow was worth its weight in gold and I would have happily dropped $49 for the Mac client and $19 for the iOS app… if it had push notifications. And users, stop complaining. In most cases, you’re spending less than you would on lunch.
Early this year, I had the opportunity to interview both Dom Leca, the co-founder, and Jean-Marc Denis, the gifted designer. And in both interviews, I sought after the main goal of Sparrow. And what they thought its purpose was.
“We had this idea that mail was broken,” said Leca. “We weren’t using Mail.app on the Mac because we found that it was taking up too much screen space and it was a huge application for something that shouldn’t be.” Similarly, Denis expressed his frustration of Mail for iOS. “It didn’t ‘work’ well enough,” he said.
Well, in the coming months they’ll be sending email from the PT timezone. Google is hoping that along with their luggage, the Sparrow team will bring over their unique vision for a better email. After all, the tech giant probably feels like they’re lacking talent in the email department. And I’m sure these five are sure to fill the gap. Let’s see what they whip up.
In the meantime, stop bugging Sparrow. Yes, we may not be into the whole buyout thingy, but this is great news for Leca and his team. Let’s suck it up and be happy for them. If anything, Sparrow still exists in the app store. So go buy it, and please, please, please, don’t complain about the price – seriously.
Written with Sparrow in mind.