Parse on Buddy – Forever free, and full of features

Written by David McLauchlan

In January of 2016, Facebook announced that they were going to shut down the world’s most popular mobile backend as a service (mBaaS) – Parse.com. An mBaaS is a product that provides a lot of the cloud-based functionality that many mobile apps require – as distinct from the functionality found on the device itself. For example, if you forget your password for an app, often the app will send you a password reset email. It isn’t the app running on your phone that is sending you that email, it’s a “service” on the Internet (in the cloud) that does so.

Likewise when you make use of an app that asks for your location – it most likely isn’t doing location lookups or calculations on your phone, those are happening in the cloud somewhere. It is mBaaS systems that do a lot of that work.

When Facebook made their announcement, the application development world sat up and took notice. Over 1.1 million applications used Parse, and most of them would either have to be retired or updated. And if they were being updated, what were they being updated with? Who was going to release the next Parse?

Not long afterwards, Buddy announced that we would spin up a fully functional instance of Parse using the same backend infrastructure that powers the Buddy Platform. We did this for several reasons – 1) nearly every IoT implementation has a mobile app component somewhere in the eco-system, so this was highly relevant even as a stand-alone piece of technology, and 2) Buddy is in the business of making masses of device generated data useful for our customers, and while most of us don’t think of our phones as “Internet of Things devices”, they are certainly connected and generate a ton of data. The addition of an enormous volume of mobile app data overlaid on the Buddy Platform’s data sets would provide incredible context and additional pivot points upon which data sets could be built and analyzed.

So we proceeded to build out what we firmly believe is the premier Parse offering on the market. There’s a large number of firms that have built light-weight solutions (simply provide hosted versions of an open-source product that Facebook published for low volume, small scale apps), and a small number of firms that did what we did – build out a fully-featured, scaled replica of the original Parse.com product.

As we rolled out Parse on Buddy, with technical assistance and input from the Parse.com team at Facebook, we decided to match Facebook’s pricing and terms. Our model would be to continue their “pay for what you use” subscription pricing model.

However, the problem with a pay for what you use pricing model is not paying for what you’re using, but budgeting for how you’re going to pay for what you think you’re going to use. Every app developer believes they have the next WhatsApp – and certainly, many apps do go on to experience huge growth and place extraordinary demands on their backend infrastructure. As developers thought through these costs – they realized that by the time their app got big, they’d be stuck because the costs of moving to a different system (or worse, a homegrown one) would be prohibitive and likely include downtime.

At the same time, at Buddy we realized that there was a growing pool of customers that were interested in acquiring data sets – completely anonymized, aggregated data sets with absolutely no personally identifying information – and we realized that relative to our competitors, we had a unique advantage. Through our ability to manage and process large volumes of data, we could (in effect) pair those looking to purchase large volumes of data, with those looking to consume large volumes of mBaaS services at the cheapest possible price.

Well, today I’m thrilled to share that we’ve announced Parse on Buddy is going “forever free” following the implementation of this business model. I’m thrilled we can do this, and I know developers are going to love it. Build an app, don’t worry about the scale, and know that growth won’t be hamstrung by cost. We think this is a huge step forward for mobile and connected device developers, and we couldn’t be more pleased to be providing this service.

However, that’s not all we announced today.  Later this month Parse on Buddy will introduce exclusive support for Parse Push Notification Server (PPNS). This is a hugely popular push notification technology for Android developers in regions where Google services are unavailable (like China), or for devices running non-Google versions of Android (like Amazon products).

Since the initial release of Parse on Buddy, we have seen steady growth in apps created and traffic through the system. With nearly 30 million mobile devices on the platform (and adding 100,000 new devices per day – and that number is growing too!), we expect to surpass a billion transactions per month this quarter. In fact, the Parse on Buddy product is growing its greatest rate yet – a very pleasing stat.

While the platform is growing at over 50% per month right now, we expect to substantially lift that growth rate through three concerted efforts:

  • The release of PPNS is expected to unlock a large amount of volume growth due to its popularity in China and nearby regions. It also provides a mechanism to support push notifications over variants of Android products, such as those made by Amazon.com.
  • Direct evangelism to professional application development agencies and developers promoting the fact that Parse on Buddy is now forever free, and
  • Partnership arrangements with organizations that provide application tracking, statistics, rankings and other services. These organizations typically have customer bases of 10’s of thousands of developers, and there’s a rich opportunity to partner and reach a whole new scale of customers.

PPNS, the new pricing and an updated SDK will be unveiled and deployed on May 16th – day one of the IoT World trade show in the San Francisco Bay Area, and will feature in a marketing campaign at that point. Since organic growth is showing no signs of going anywhere but up, we expect that trend to not only continue but accelerate dramatically as barriers to entry are entirely removed.

With these moves, we have made Parse on Buddy the most feature complete, scalable and affordable MBaaS on the planet. Now developers can build great apps, grow them at scale, and never have to worry about paying the bill.

Stay tuned here for updates, as the new pricing and PPNS go online later in May. In the meantime if you have any questions please get in touch via buddy.com or [email protected].