Google Buys iOS, Mac OS X Email App Developer Sparrow

The search giant, which will bring Sparrow’s five employees into its Gmail group, reportedly paid less than $25 million for the company.

Google is buying software maker Sparrow to help build up its email capabilities. How the search giant will leverage its new technologies is unclear.

Officials with the small company, which develops its namesake third-party email clients for Apple€™s Mac OS X and iOS operating systems, announced July 20 that Sparrow was being bought by Google, and that its employees were joining Google€™s Gmail group.

€œWe care a lot about how people communicate, and we did our best to provide you with the most intuitive and pleasurable mailing experience,€ Sparrow CEO Dom Leca said in a brief note on the company€™s Website. €œNow we€™re joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision€”one that we think we can better achieve with Google.€

Leca did not elaborate on what the bigger vision is. Sparrow launched its first product in February 2011.

No details about the sale were announced, though sources told the news site The Verge that Google paid less than $25 million for the five-person company.

In a note emailed to journalists, a Google spokesperson also had few details about what the company hoped to do with Sparrow and its technology.

€œThe Sparrow team has always put their users first by focusing on building a seamlessly simple and intuitive interface for their email client,€ the Google statement said. €œWe look forward to bringing them aboard the Gmail team, where they€™ll be working on new projects.€

According to Cnet, Leca sent an email to Sparrow customers saying that they could continue to use all the Sparrow apps they currently use, but not to expect any new ones.

"We will continue to make available our existing products, and we will provide support and critical updates to our users,€ he said in his email. €œHowever, as we'll be busy with new projects at Google, we do not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps."

Google already offers a Gmail app for iOS, which offers users a host of features, from reading mail with threaded conversations and mail organizing capabilities to putting important messages into a priority box, auto-complete email addresses and sending and receiving attachments. Google launched the iOS app late last year, and updated it in December 2011, giving users the ability to add a custom signature for outgoing mobile messages.

In addition, a vacation responder was added to the app, as was nested labels and the ability to sketch or scribble a message on a €œcanvas€ that can be attached to an email message.

However, the app is not service-agnostic€”users can only use Gmail. Apple, which offers its Apple Mail on both iOS and Mac OS X, lets users gain access to other services.