Goodbye Parse. Now, Apple’s CloudKit vs. Google’s Firebase vs. Kinvey?

Well, today Parse announced that they will be shutting down completely by the end of 2016. When they were acquired by Facebook in 2013, many were concerned. Acquisitions often don’t end well. I guess those folks were correct.

We have a difficult announcement to make. Beginning today we’re winding down the Parse service, and Parse will be fully retired after a year-long period ending on January 28, 2017. We’re proud that we’ve been able to help so many of you build great mobile apps, but we need to focus our resources elsewhere.

Kevin Lacker, Co-founder of Parse

Despite reassurances from Parse, the developers who were counting on it for the back-end services for their apps have now been left hanging. Many are now receiving hundreds, if not thousands, of panicked emails and texts from customers who never did build out their own backend services for their apps.

Parse has agreed to be acquired by Facebook. We expect the transaction to close shortly. Rest assured, Parse is not going away. It’s going to get better.

– Ilya Sukhar, Co-founder of Parse, 2013

Already people are asking for the best alternatives to Parse. But, they are frequently being met with answers that basically state; “This is what you get for not building your own back-end services and infrastructure” or “Better learn how to do it yourself using AWS”. Now, many small startups and independent app developers do not have the luxury of dedicated back-end developers and an operational team to keep things running and humming. Some are early in their lifecycle and need to quickly develop and test to get to product-market fit before investing in their own infrastructure and services. They really do need a Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS).

The three services that keep bubbling to the top for me right now are:

  1. Apple’s CloudKit
    • Provides authentication, a private and a public database, and structured asset storage services for iOS apps only
    • Edited: Actually, CloudKit JS lets you access your data from your web services too, but this would still be challenging if you have an Android app and want to leverage the native iOS auth. No solution for Android, Web, etc.
    • The pricing model is interesting in that it stays free (up to 1PB free public storage) as long as your number of active users grows as your data usage grows.
  2. Google’s Firebase
    • Provides authentication, realtime database, and hosting services for iOS, Android, and Web
    • This has a more traditional pricing model of a “free forever” entry-level tier with monthly pricing that increases as your scale increases.
  3. Kinvey
    • Provides authentication, database, file store, and more for iOS, Android, and Web
    • But, it seems incredibly pricey at $24k/app/year at the first tier

There are numerous other services that handles portions of what an app developer needs such as authentication, database, media storage, notifications, testing, analytics, etc. But, other than these three, is there anyone else who provides everything in one service at an affordable pricing structure for early startups and independent app developers?

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