Google takes on Parse with new service for mobile-app backends

If you’re an Android developer, Google has a question for you: Would you rather give your money to Facebook and Amazon Web Services, or to us? If it’s the latter, Google introduced on Monday a new product called the Mobile Backend Starter that is, essentially, Google’s take on the AWS-powered Parse service that Facebook recently acquired for a reported $85 million.

Google announced the new service on its Android Developers and Cloud Platform blogs, describing it as “a one-click deployable, complete mobile backend that allows you to reap the benefits of a cloud backend with none of the headaches. It provides a ready-to-deploy, general purpose cloud backend and a general purpose client-side framework for Android.”

mobile-backend-archGoogle’s new service is hardly the first on the market, though, and it’s nowhere near the broadest. The market for providing what some call “mobile backend as a service” has been growing in popularity over the past couple years as smartphone use has proliferated. The classic infrastructure-as-a-service and even platform-as-a-service clouds have been a godsend to many web and early mobile startups, but many mobile developers just want something even simpler, it appears.

Mobile Backend Starter joins the aforementioned Parse, as well as other offerings from startups such as Appcelerator, KinveyFlurry and StackMob. All of these services offer broader feature sets and support for numerous mobile platforms beyond Android. Google’s prevailing thinking seems to be, though, that if you’re developing apps for Android, there’s no better place to do it than with the company who created the operating system.

In fact, Google is just the latest of bigger, badder vendors getting into the MbaaS space: Rackspace and did so earlier this year and, if Amazon Web Services job postings are to be believed, the king of public cloud is also eyeing entry into this space.

Technically, Google unveiled Mobile Backend Starter during a talk at Google I/O last month, but apparently word didn’t spread much beyond the walls of that room. David Chandler, one of the Google developers who gave the presentation, has collected a number of additional resources here, on his personal blog.