Google Pulls Sparrow Email App to Make Way for Inbox: Reports

The Sparrow email app Google bought in 2012 disappeared from iOS and OS X app stores, fueling reports Google is clearing the way for its new Inbox platform.

Google Inbox email platform

The pre-spring clean out at Google continues unabated. Barely four weeks after pulling the plug on the Google Glass Explorer Edition and just days after announcing its decision to retire the Helpouts video service, Google appears to have ended another of its ventures.

This time around, it is Google's Sparrow email app for Apple's iOS and the Mac OS X that has reportedly gotten the ax. Google has entirely pulled the once-popular application from the iOS and Mac App Stores to make way for its new Inbox app, TechCrunch reported Feb. 17.

Google itself has not formally announced anything regarding Sparrow's future, and TechCrunch's conclusion appears based purely on the fact that the email client is not currently available via Apple's App Stores. Google did not respond to a request for comment on multiple reports of the company's decision to pull the email app from Apple's App Store.

Google acquired the five-person Sparrow in 2012 for a rumored $25 million or so. At that time, the French-company's application was considered one of the best email clients for iOS and Mac OS X platforms. A March 2012 review by Business Insider described Sparrow as the application that "Google and Apple wish they could pull off." described Sparrow as a "minimalist and aesthetically pleasing" application that treated email almost like Twitter. "Everything about Sparrow is elegant," noted in its review. And App Annie, a Website that ranks mobile applications by popularity, listed Sparrow at No. 2 in the list of most popular applications among U.S. users on the iOS app store in March 2012.

However, with Google's purchase of the company in July 2012, the Sparrow team stopped development activity around the email client and announced it would be working on Google projects instead. It committed only to supporting customers who had already purchased its products. Not surprisingly, Sparrow's popularity plummeted after the Google purchase, and few expected the application to survive for long.

Google's decision to pull Sparrow is being viewed as a signal of its intention to focus more on its new Inbox email application for the Android, iOS, OS X and other marketplaces. The new app, currently available on an invitation-only basis from Google, is being positioned as a complement to Gmail but will eventually replace it as Google's primary email application.

Inbox supports several new features including "Bundles" for organizing emails by topics,

"Highlights" which lets users see the most important parts of an email without having to open it and a "Snooze" capability for putting away emails for future review.

If Google has indeed terminated Sparrow, it will be the third such decision that the company has made in just over a month. In January, Google said it would stop production of the Google Glass Explorer Edition and focus instead on finding future uses for the technology. Last week, the company announced that it would retire its Helpouts expert advice video service in April because of low consumer interest.

Such moves come amid heightening concerns of slowing momentum at Google in recent months. While Google remains enormously profitable and is sitting in a vast pile of cash, the company's revenue growth has slowed somewhat from about two years ago. It has missed Wall Street performance expectations for several quarters. including the most recent one ending Dec. 31.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.