The minimalist email client Sparrow — or, more accurately, its development team — has been. Although the Sparrow Mac and iPhone clients will remain available and supported (at least for a while; I can’t imagine they’ll stick around for any significant amount of time), the Sparrow developers are joining the Gmail team.
This acquisition isn’t terribly surprising, since the market for email clients has long been weak, and although the Mac version of Sparrow was extremely modern looking and had some interesting interface ideas, its rough edges and performance problems always prevented me from using it for anything beyond quick tests. However well Sparrow may have sold, it clearly wasn’t enough to prevent the team from taking Google’s acquisition offer.
It probably won’t be possible to connect specific Gmail changes with the Sparrow developers, but those of us who rely on Gmail can hope that their ideas inform new and innovative features. I would be surprised to see dedicated Mac and iPhone Gmail clients significantly different from what Google has done already, since Google’s emphasis is always on Web apps, and platform-specific clients from Google are generally just windows onto those Web apps.