Google Acquires iPhone Search Application reMail

Google on Wednesday acquired reMail, a popular iPhone application that provides "lightning fast" full-text search of your Gmail and IMAP e-mail accounts. Terms of the deal were not released. ReMail may not have been a household name, but the app received critical praise and had a small, but dedicated group of users. So what will Google do with this app, will it just kill the technology or has the search giant got something else up its sleeve? Here's what's going on:

Back to the Mother ship

Gabor Cselle, reMail's founder will be heading to the Googleplex in Mountain View, California where he'll join the Gmail team as a product manager. Cselle has made improving e-mail his life's works so far. The reMail founder was once the vice president of engineering at Xobni, the popular social networking sidebar for Microsoft Outlook. Cselle should feel right at home with Google since he's worked on the Gmail team before.

What about me?

If you're a reMail user, Wednesday's announcement will be bitter sweet for you. On his blog, Cselle said reMail has been yanked from the iTunes App Store and no further updates for reMail will be coming. However, Cselle says support for reMail will continue through the end of March, and reMail is making its premium features available to all users for free. Premium features included support for IMAP and Rackspace accounts.

Will reMail live again?

Cselle and Google aren't saying what the fate of reMail might be. Some are suggesting reMail could be integrated into Gmail search or live on in some form as a part of Android, Google's mobile platform.

Conspiracy theory

Another possibility, however, is that Google may have snapped up reMail just to kill it. Not because reMail was a competitor to anything Google had, but because reMail made the iPhone better. That's the theory being forwarded by TechCrunch's MG Siegler, anyway. "I'm betting they're [Google] just as happy to kill off what is hands down one of the best email applications on the iPhone - much better than the iPhone's native email app," Siegler wrote.

Interesting theory, but then again reMail is a search application, and by all accounts a very good search application. So this acquisition may have more to do with keeping good search technology away from the competition, as opposed to an attempt to undercut the iPhone.

ReMail is Google's third start-up acquisition in as many months. Last week, the search giant announced it had acquired Aardvark, a service that lets you ask a question and then routes it to the person in your social network most likely to know the answer. Before that, Google in December picked up AppJet, the company behind the popular real-time collaboration online word processor: EtherPad.

Connect with Ian Paul on Twitter (@ianpaul) or on Google Buzz.

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