News earlier this week that Google had acquired reMail
- the startup that had developed an app to quickly search all your email from your iPhone - was taken in stride. After all, the search giant has been on an "acqu-hiring" spree for a long time, buying up companies and bringing in top talent. However, it raised some eyebrows when the owner - now a Google employee - pulled reMail from the App Store. Observers wondered
if Google bought reMail just to kill the app.
Gabor Cselle, a former Gmail engineer, announced on Wednesday
that he'd sold his company to Google and would be going back to work on the Gmail team. Saying that he was “thrilled” about becoming a Gmail product manager, he went on to explain that "Google and reMail" have decided to discontinue reMail's iPhone application." and that it had been removed from the App Store. Copies of the app that have already been downloaded will continue to work, of course, and the company will offer support until the end of next month. If you have the free version of reMail, you have been automagically updated to the full feature set of the paid edition (you just click "Restore Purchases" in the app), but there will never be another version. The reMail app is as dead as the dinosaurs.
The general opinion had been that Google was just interested in Cselle, and was buying him in what's called a "talent acquisition
" in the industry. However, there are lots of skilled engineers that Google can get for less than the (undisclosed) price of a startup, and yanking the app suggests a more sinister motive. It is possible that Google is working on its own killer iPhone app, but if that's the case, then neither Google nor Cselle is talking about it. It's certainly possible that reMail is just a casualty in the ongoing battles between Apple and Google for an edge in the mobile phone market. As TechCrunch
's MG Siegler quipped
: "all's fair in love and war… and make no mistake, this is war."
The reMail app worked by downloading all your email (including IMAP and - notably - Gmail) for quick, feature-rich search. It indexed to-from fields, subject lines, as well as the full text of the message body. It could auto-complete contact names, saved attachments and supported advanced Boolean search operators. The app impressed a lot of reviewers
, who noted it was able to complete searches in about a fifth of the time as the native iPhone Mail app.
Cselle joins the developers of AppJet, the collaboration tool and the social search Aardvark
as former Google employees who went out on their own to start new projects, and then got assimilated back to the collective. Of those, only Aardvark survives as a Google labs project; AppJet's team went to work on Google Wave.