Everybody’s favorite Mac and iPhone email client, Sparrow, has – twist! – been acquired by Google.

“We’re excited to announce that Sparrow has been acquired by Google! We care a lot about how people communicate, and we did our best to provide you with the most intuitive and pleasurable mailing experience,” CEO Dom Leca announced on the company’s site.

“Now we’re joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision – one that we think we can better achieve with Google.”

Leca also notes that “While we’ll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users.” Which devotees of the native client email option can interpret as a featureless future; it’s the digital equivalent of keeping someone on life support.

When Sparrow debuted for Mac and later iPhone this year, it quickly became the apple of an Apple user’s eye. The app integrated your various inboxes with a slick, stupid-simple interface and a high level of organization – it did the undoable: it streamlined email.

So what does the Google acquisition mean for Sparrow’s future – and for Gmail’s future? Well Google knows that applications need to go mobile, and going mobile and doing it right means cracking the iOS market. Google hasn’t introduced a native iOS email client that really sweeps users off their feet, and bagging Sparrow gives the company this much-needed presence. Google could also be planning to work with the team to create another standalone option.

The deal also means Gmail for iPhone has one fewer competitor. So with the buy, Google bags a talented team and successful product needed for its arsenal, as well as ousting a very popular alternative – two birds (er, sparrows?), one stone. The acquisition does feel a little like buying out one’s rival instead of actually beating them, but a win is a win and this is all good news for Google. Who is it bad for? Anyone wanting to see future iterations and development of Sparrow – and especially users who were especially excited about its upcoming iPad app, which you’d be smart to consider shelved.

Hopefully this also means some good things for Gmail; cleaner labeling, a better filter system, improved integration with other mail accounts. And maybe the deal will even mean a native Gmail client for Mac, which plenty of OS X users would be thrilled to see.