The Hawk catches the Sparrow

About 2 min reading time

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This is a blow to indie developers!

No. No it’s fucking not. It isn’t as if there’s a limited supply of indie devs, and Google has just whittled another critical few into the bosom of corporate employment. We’re not an endangered species. In the time it took you to read this paragraph, another fifteen kids launched Xcode for the first time.

Matt Gemmell, "Entitlement and Acquisition" Matt Gemmell on Google's acquisition of (the team behind) Sparrow. He's making a lot of thoughtful and sensible comments.

Since the news went out, I've seen tons of, mostly negative, comments on Twitter about the deal. There are overly dramatic and pure hateful words coming out, and even though they are the honest thoughts and feelings of customers, I feel that people should relax about everything.

Yes, it's controversial because it's Google and all this David-and-Goliath thing all over again (except for this time, Goliath didn't challenge David, but gave him a shitload of gold coins and talked him over to the Philistine side instead). But please have some distance and perspective – the developers behind Sparrow have all the rights in the world to sell their creation to Google and join the company. Sure – it's too bad – but it's business. If you feel "betrayed" or "tricked on upcoming features/iPad version/etc" you should perhaps not base all your e-mail habits on one app, or buy apps solely on the developers' "promises" of fancy new features in the future.

Another side of the coin, by Rian van der Merwe:

This is the core of the disappointment that many of us feel with the Sparrow acquisition. It’s not about the $15 or less we spent on the apps. It’s not about the team’s well-deserved payout. It’s about the loss of faith in a philosophy that we thought was a sustainable way to ensure a healthy future for independent software development, where most innovation happens.

Rian van der Merwe, "The real reason we're upset about Sparrow's acquisition" What the author of the quote above means with his post is basically the ideological failure involved with the acquisition (how's that for being overly dramatic?). Perhaps he's right – it's an interesting take. Go read the post.


I for one got tired of Sparrow a couple of months ago and switched to Apple's Mail. For me Sparrow felt sluggish, unpolished and was holding me back (it doesn't support Exchange accounts). The iPhone version is really slick UI-wise, as well as interaction wise with all its touch gestures and whatnot. Still, it felt slow and over-designed after a while. I returned to Apples spartan but clean Mail.

It's not personal. It's strictly business.

Michael Corleone