Tech giant Google appears increasingly willing to tweak its software to run on arch rival Apple’s hardware, after acquiring a start-up that develops email applications for Apple devices.
Sparrow, founded by Dominique Leca and Hoa Dinh Viet, is a French start-up that develops email applications for Apple gadgets, including “Sparrow for iPhone” and “Sparrow for Mac”.
The small Sparrow team consists of only five members, including the founders. Leca serves as chief executive while Viet is chief technology officer.
The other team members are graphic designer Jean-Marc Denis, iOS lead developer Jean-Baptiste Bégué and software engineer Louis Romero.
In an unprecedented move, Google has acquired Sparrow for an undisclosed sum.
A Google spokesperson said the Sparrow team “has always put their users first by focusing on building a seamlessly simple and intuitive interface for their email client”.
“We look forward to bringing them aboard the Gmail team, where they’ll be working on new projects,” the spokesperson said.
In a company blog titled “Sparrow + Google”, Leca said Sparrow is excited to announce the acquisition, describing Sparrow’s future with Google as “full speed ahead”.
“We care a lot about how people communicate, and we did our best to provide you with the most intuitive and pleasurable mailing experience,” Leca said.
“Now we’re joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision – one that we think we can better achieve with Google.”
“While we’ll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users.”
Sparrow isn’t the only start-up Google has brought on board to improve one of its products. Last month, it acquired Silicon Valley start-up Meebo to raise the profile of Google+.
Meebo is a consumer internet company focused on driving user engagement across the internet.
Its flagship product, the Meebo Bar, enables publishers and advertisers to leverage this audience by weaving content engagement and brand experiences into the consumer’s internet activities.
“With the Meebo team’s expertise in social publisher tools, we believe they will be a great fit with the Google+ team,” Google said at the time.
Google has openly admitted the acquisition of start-ups is an increasingly important element of its growth strategy.
In December last year, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said the company is acquiring around one company per week, although the actual figures show it’s more than that.
Google acquired 57 companies in 2011, ranging from restaurant review site Zagat to airline data firms for travel services.
It has been particularly aggressive with its acquisitions in the mobile, social and search areas.