Facebook buys Parse, gets into development tools business

Facebook has bought a company that provides a cloud-based app development platform

Facebook is acquiring Parse, a cloud service company that makes it easier for developers to build mobile apps by providing them with a hosted back-end infrastructure, the companies announced Thursday.

The deal appears to put Facebook in the business of selling application development tools.

"By making Parse a part of Facebook Platform, we want to enable developers to rapidly build apps that span mobile platforms and devices," Douglas Purdy, Facebook's director of product management, said in a blog post.

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Parse provides a suite of services, including data storage and push notifications, that allows developers to focus on building their apps and not have to worry about managing servers and other back-end infrastructure.

Parse says its service also makes it easy for developers to connect their apps to social networks, including, currently, Facebook and Twitter. Its services can be used to build applications for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 and OS X, as well as in JavaScript, Parse says on its website.

Some of Parse's clients include Cisco, the Travel Channel, Cadillac, the Food Network and Emporio Armani.

The company offers three levels of service -- a free basic service, a "professional" service for US$199 a month and an "enterprise" service that includes service-level agreements and dedicated support, for which it does not publish pricing.

Facebook said it will continue to offer Parse's products and services. It didn't respond to a question about whether it will continue to charge for them.

In a blog post, Parse CEO Ilya Sukhar said current apps built using the service won't be affected, and that Parse apps will not have to use Facebook functionality.

In less than two years, Parse has grown from "a rough prototype to powering tens of thousands of apps," Sukhar said. Being acquired by the social network "allows us to work with their incredible talent and resources to build the ideal platform for developers," he said.

Facebook has been working hard to built support among mobile app developers. Last week it hosted its first mobile developer conference, which saw the launch of several new products such as Open Graph for mobile.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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