Facebook acquires Parse to offer mobile backend services for developers

Facebook today announced an agreement to acquire Parse, a cloud-based platform providing tools for mobile app developers.

Parse offers backend services, data storage, social integration tools and other features to make it easier for developers to build apps across different platforms that scale more efficiently.

Facebook is buying Parse outright, meaning this is more than the typical talent deals Facebook makes. Parse will continue to operate and offer its services. Currently, it has a free model, a $199 model and an enterprise level. The company says there are 60,000 apps integrated with Parse’s platform.

Facebook Director of Developer Products Doug Purdy wrote in a developer blog post today:

“We want to enable developers to rapidly build apps that span mobile platforms and devices. Parse makes this possible by allowing developers to work with native objects that provide backend services for data storage, notifications, user management, and more. This removes the need to manage servers and a complex infrastructure, so you can simply focus on building great user experiences.”

Parse is one of 10 recently named Facebook Technology Partners, which is similar to the Preferred Marketing Developer program, but focused on technical solutions for developers rather than marketers.

Parse says the deal with Facebook will not change existing customers’ contracts or affect their apps in any way. Parse apps will not be required to use Facebook functionality.

However, what Facebook can do with Parse is make it really easy for mobile developers to integrate its SDK and use Facebook login, Open Graph and other components of its platform. Basically a mobile app developer could potentially save time and money without having to redevelop their own app’s backend to access Facebook services. With this week’s acqui-hire of the team behind Spaceport — a cross-platform development framework — and now the Parse acquisition, Facebook seems to be making key moves to improve its mobile app platform.

Although Parse hadn’t disclosed its financials before it was acquired, selling backend services could be a new healthy stream of revenue for the social network, particularly as its revenue growth from games payments declines. It’s also possible that Facebook could make Parse available for free, making it more universal among developers so that it can get more of them building on their platform and buying ads. This could hurt others in the space such as Stackmob, Kinvey and Kii, which use a freemium model like Parse does currently.