Mystery over why Facebook plans to shut down Parse mobile developer platform

29 Jan 2016

Mobile is central to Facebook's ambitions so the winding down of Parse is raising some eyebrows

Facebook has revealed that Parse, the mobile development toolkit it acquired in 2013 for $85m, is to be wound down.

The news is something of a surprise considering Facebook was trumpeting the platform as one of its enabling technologies for internet of things back at F8 in March.

At first, things seemed rosy and, at the Web Summit two years ago, Parse co-founder founder Ilya Sukhar, then a director of product at Facebook, told that Parse was central to Facebook’s vision for empowering millions of mobile developers around the world.

However, in August last, Sukhar announced he was leaving Facebook “to do something new.”

With Parse away, Facebook plans to focus resources elsewhere

Last night (28 January), Parse co-founder Kevin Lacker announced that Facebook was winding down its support for Parse, a platform of tools that powers more than 260,000 apps, including those of Ferrari, The Food Network and Sesame Street.

Lacker said that Parse will be fully retired a year from now, on 28 January 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.

“We understand that this won’t be an easy transition, and we’re working hard to make this process as easy as possible. We are committed to maintaining the backend service during the sunset period, and are providing several tools to help migrate applications to other services,” Lacker said.

To manage the transition, Facebook is releasing a database migration tool that lets you migrate data from your Parse app to any MongoDB database.

“During this migration, the Parse API will continue to operate as usual based on your new database, so this can happen without downtime,” Lacker said.

“Second, we’re releasing the open source Parse Server, which lets you run most of the Parse API from your own Node.js server. Once you have your data in your own database, Parse Server lets you keep your application running without major changes in the client-side code.”

Just what Facebook plans to do next in fostering mobile developers is anybody’s guess, but it is a vibrant community that the social network depends on. Is it working on its own alternative development platform?

Earlier this week, Facebook reported Q4 revenues of $5.8bn and revealed that mobile accounted for 80pc of ad revenues.

Deloitte’s recent economic impact study revealed that Facebook’s platform is a $29bn economy in terms of the economic activity that the platform creates. This has created 600,000 jobs and a third of those were in Europe.

Facebook mobile image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years