Google buys, and kills, iPhone app

With purchase of reMail, it removes one of the device’s best third-party mail programs

“reMail 2.0 Nails Full-Text Search For the iPhone,” read the headline of TechCrunch’s review last August.

“Fast and smart,” wrote ReadWriteWeb, a “game changer.”

“[The iPhone’s] level search is certainly a good start,” said CNET News, “but it doesn’t compare to newly-released app ReMail, which can index an entire e-mail account and do full text search within all your messages.”

Sound like a program you might want for your iPhone? Too late.

Google (GOOG) has purchased reMail and rehired its talented founder, Gabor Cselle, one of the original members of Google’s Gmail team.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Google has acquired reMail!” Cselle proclaimed in the announcement posted on his blog Wednesday. “I will be joining Google in Mountain View as a Product Manager on the Gmail team.”

And then he added:

“You might be wondering what will happen with reMail’s product. Google and reMail have decided to discontinue reMail’s iPhone application, and we have removed it from the App Store.”

If you already have reMail on your iPhone, it will still work, and Cselle will continue to support it — at least until the end of March.

“It’s sad that other iPhone users won’t get a chance to check out this app now that Google is killing it,” writes TechCrunch‘s MG Seigler, who had a hand in reMail’s selection as an award finalist at this year’s SXSW conference and sees the move as an escalation in the growing tension between Google and Apple (AAPL).

“All’s fair in love and war, I suppose,” he adds. “And make no mistake, this is war.”

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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