Sparrow has been acquired, long live Sparrow. The Mac and iPhone Sparrow apps will no longer be updated because Google has bought the company in order to hire its creators. While I am very sad to see any innovative developer not working on their own products, this won’t really effect me that much. I tried Sparrow several times and could never make it work as efficiently as Apple Mail, especially with multiple email accounts. The more interesting thing here is the way that large companies acquire talent. They realize that they lack refined design/software and think the best way to gain it is spending tons of money to buy a great designer/developer’s company, hire them on, and then shut down their previous ventures. I can see the logic, but I haven’t seen the results.
Facebook has brought several amazing designers on in this fashion and we have seen very little improvement in their design generally, and their mobile products especially (although Facebook Camera is pretty nice). This seems like a very expensive way to fail at significantly improving your product. I have a simple suggestion, why not listen to the designers/engineers you already have on staff? There are so many talented people in many of these organizations that spending millions chasing rockstars seems like a poor investment. Apple’s design sense seems to be what everyone is chasing when they make these acquisitions. Here’s the worst kept secret about Apple’s design sense. They put the guy with taste in charge. You want good design? Try giving the talent you already have the keys. If you’re not listening to them now you probably won’t listen to that new rockstar acquisition either.