Amazon Should Create a Competitor to Facebook's Parse

Roughly six weeks ago Facebook bought Parse, the mobile-backend-as-a-service that lets app developers focus on their app's business logic instead of sticky bits like hosting data services. There are many reasons that Facebook made this purchase. Of course, there is the developer/user base that comes along with such a purchase. However, the primary reason is that Parse's platform (data storage, user account management, Facebook/Twitter login integration, push notifications, the ability to run code in the cloud with multiple service integrations) has extensive capabilities that allow app developers to quickly and cheaply create new apps with sophisticated features. Facebook wants more developers to create apps that integrate with Facebook, and the Parse acquisition goes a long way towards that goal.

Where, then, does Amazon come into play? Well, I've used Parse for a few projects in the past. I was also seriously considering using it in two different apps that I've been contemplating. However, after the Facebook acquisition, I'm a bit hesitant to put my faith in Parse as a platform. The main reason for this stance is that Facebook isn't known for being very kind to developers. There are alternatives such as Microsoft's Windows Azure Mobile Services, but those alternatives are either inferior in feature sets, more expensive, produced by fledgling startups with uncertain futures, or some combination of the above. Amazon, however, could provide a suitable alternative for developers worried about betting their business on Facebook/Parse.

Amazon has been quite successful with its AWS (Amazon Web Services) offering, and many of the web's biggest players use AWS as their backend. In fact, Parse itself is a platform that is developed on top of AWS. Something that Amazon is missing, however, is a service that provides the same ease of use for mobile app developers that Parse does. (Seriously, go check out Parse's documentation...it's amazingly well done.)

From a technical perspective, Amazon could create a service that is simpler to use than the raw services provided by the current AWS stack and with deeper integrations with third party services. From a business perspective, Amazon could price this service very competitively. From a trust perspective, Amazon is clearly a business that isn't going to go away any time soon.

How would this fit into Amazon's strategy? Creating a mobile-backend-as-a-service would encourage even more developers, particularly mobile app developers, to use Amazon's services. This creates greater revenue opportunities for Amazon by reaching developers that might not otherwise have selected the full AWS offering. Also, it creates an opportunity for revenue sharing with some of those niche magazine apps that have become all the rage on the iOS Newsstand (The Magazine and The Loop, for example). After all, that type of content needs to be hosted somewhere and the subscriptions inherent in those magazines provide recurring revenue opportunities. (Bonus points if Amazon makes it easy to migrate to the full AWS stack when/if a developer is ready to do so.)

It's not clear if Amazon has ever considered creating this type of service. It certainly sounds intriguing to me as a mobile app developer. If the 'Featured Customers' section of Parse's website is any indication, there are many big name app developers that might agree.