In a Facebook “whiteboard” session today at the company’s headquarters, it introduced press and analysts to its recently acquired mobile app development platform Parse and its former CEO Ilya Sukhar (who heads the Parse unit of Facebook). Sukhar seems like he could be Mark Zuckerburg’s first cousin.
For those who’ve never heard of Parse, it was a two-year-old startup acquired in April by Facebook. It’s now part of the suite of tools Facebook offers for developers (Facebook Platform). Parse’s mission was/is to take the complexity out of developing native mobile apps for multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Web, Windows Phone).
Parse doesn’t address UI development (as does competitor Appcelerator). Rather, it handles the “under the hood” integration challenges of building apps on multiple platforms, Sukhar explained.
Here’s what Facebook said at the time it acquired Parse a month ago:
By making Parse a part of the Facebook Platform, 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 currently integrates a number of Facebook features/tools such as Facebook log-in. There was no product roadmap discussion at the whiteboard session. But, you can expect deeper Facebook integration into Parse over time.
At the meeting, Facebook said that according to a study conducted by comScore, Facebook mobile app install ads have become the leading way that users discover new mobile apps. Mobile app install ads currently aren’t integrated into Parse, but expect that in the future.
Facebook reported during the meeting that 80 percent of the top-grossing iOS apps and 70 percent of the top grossing Android apps integrate Facebook (in one form or another).
Parse’s Sukhar said that in the two years of the company’s existence it has been adopted by small developers and big brands alike. Clients include GM, The Food Network, Green Bay Packers, Hipmunk and Sesame Street. Sukhar added that Parse has been used in the development of 80,000 mobile apps that have been installed on 200 million mobile devices.
By acquiring Parse and integrating its capabilities, Facebook can make itself even more valuable and central to the lives of mobile developers. In that way, it grows its developer community and eventually will see more mobile ad revenue (as well as more distribution for a hypothetical mobile ad network).