Thoughts on Sparrow Acquisition

When I heard the news that Sparrow has been acquired by Google, I could only let out a deep sigh as one of the Sparrow user. You can’t avoid being disappointed when you’re looking forward for what they’re going to build into their next release. No one can blame their Sparrow for their decision when they’re offered an opportunity gain more income supporting their family while building a product that will be used by many people.

I’m not going to dwell over this matter more than a day. I’ve moved on and switched to Postbox 3. In fact, I used Postbox long before trying out Sparrow. But one of the response post caught my attention.

This particular post “The real reason we’re upset about Sparrow’s acquisition” by Rian:

You see, for a long time we’ve chanted this refrain wherever we could: If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold. We point to Facebook and Delicious and ad-supported sites and lament the fact that we’re all just a set of eyeballs being sold to advertisers. So we came up with a solution. We decided that we don’t want to be free users any more. We decided that we want to pay independent developers directly so that they can have sustainable businesses and happy lives.

Let me tell you one thing. One doesn’t simply motivated by money to build a great product. If Steve Jobs were motivated solely by revenue when he returned to Apple, maybe Apple won’t exist right now. Maybe people behind Sparrow believe they can do more with Google. Maybe their “What’s next?” and vision of how mail should behave can be realized with Google. Just because you’re paying doesn’t mean they have to keep maintaining Sparrow.

Don’t let this specific acquisition diminish the philoshopy of:

We decided that we want to pay independent developers directly so that they can have sustainable businesses and happy lives.

You should continue supporting independent developers if you love their products. But this time, instead of paying and demanding a lifetime support of their products. Pay the developers for their time and efforts in crafting those products. If they are satisfied with what they’re doing and earning1, then you can also continue enjoy what you’re using.


  1. Each product should offer a subscription services if what they seek is a steady monthly income.