Shh.. Sparrow for Windows was just a few weeks away.

First of all, this is NOT a whining post. I just want to share some thoughts.

Almost a year ago I emailed Dom telling him I would love to do Sparrow for Windows. Begged really. He replied positively and a few days later I was having a Skype call with Din(cofounder, technical guy) about what it should be.

I got a good-to-go green light and immediately started coding. I was thrilled to finally do an app that fitted in a bigger picture, part of brand with recognition and coolness attached to it. I even didn’t mind that I had to blindly copy stuff from the Mac UI, since I don’t really like Metro. I also think that Desktop apps of Windows are in desperate need of design inspiration. And Sparrow for Windows would be one. Too excited.
I did huge progress in just a few weeks. I even didn’t mind that I had to figure many email protocol stuff on my own. I worked from another country so distance was a pain in the arse and my prior IMAP knowledge was truly limited. No problem though. Kept on. Naively.

This April I went to France to talk details with the founders. They had already built their iPhone app and they were ready to publish it. They also had built a hype for a finally-a-proper-email-client-on-iphone by taking advantage of the conveniently sad and miserable GMail app-in-a-webview and it’s bugs on launch. The whole thing took just 1 day, morning I landed in Paris, afternoon I was in a hotel showing off Sparrow for Windows to Dom and Jean-Baptiste.

We shook hands and we said we were gonna meet again in June/July for the final details. I would be almost finished by then and we would put out a Beta version to test with the public. I had asked specifically if the branding would be the same and that there would be no weird distinctions for the Windows app. We agreed that you were gonna go to sprw.me and if you had a Windows device you would get Sparrow for Windows. That simple.

Yesterday the news broke that the Sparrow team would join the GMail team at Google. They will leave Paris for SF, and Sparrow will fade in the history books as it will get no more ‘love’ and new features. Just support(sigh).

An email from Dom clarifies that:

Hey Panos,
Thanks for your kind words.
The press release is right. Sparrow development is put to an halt.

Dom Leca
Sent with Sparrow

The thoughts in my mind are mixed. Mainly it’s sadness for what could have been and truly is a great app for Windows. (It was built on WPF showcasing that it can deliver amazing apps.)
Another feeling is the Google effect: I know that Europe cannot really maintain a talented team like the one Dom and Dinh Viet would need to take Sparrow to new heights. Grabbing talent and growing would be oh so difficult for them. Literally impossible. Joining Google and the GMail division does seem like a great opportunity.

BUT, and this is a fat one: What about Sparrow the brand? Why it’s going away like that? Is the bigger purpose of GMail truly more important than a new and fresh take on Email? It kind of seems like the ‘new GMail’ that ought to be native for all devices(the trend is clearly for that), was galloped by it’s bigger competitor. For all the ‘love’ it was advertised to be built with, it’s now left for dead. Sad. This is a sad day for all the users who thought this could be a big or maybe the next big thing. Including me. I am confident that the future will show that GMail won’t get much better from this acquisition. In fact it may get even worse since it’s inception was a mighty web app for email. And one more thing.. When people get rich they tend to.. work less(or maybe not).

Sparrow for Windows. What about that?
Well I guess it’s a Beta app of a dead brand. Who knows? Maybe OpenSource it. Rebranding it seems such a big task and I am truly tired of making great apps for.. me. If nothing happens and it stays with me, I may try to gut it, simplify it(because yes, Sparrow is bloated, trust me, french-bloat), re-imagine what Email could be(unread? so passe), and put it out for my (and maybe your) pleasure.

Here are the 11 videos of Sparrow for Windows. You can see how it started and where is at:

RIP Sparrow. And Thanks for All The Fish.

(Best of luck to the people who made this a brand from nothing. “The Future is long” as Steve Jobs said.)