Facebook needs apps. That's the message Mark Zuckerberg brought to the audience in a surprise appearance at Thursday's Parse Developer Conference, where he told attendees that Facebook wants to make it simple to build great applications.
Zuckerberg reflected on his first days in Palo Alto building what would eventually become the world’s largest social network. “I wish Parse was around back then,” he said.
Facebook acquired Parse, the San Francisco-based “backend as a service” startup, in April. The company provides services that help developers build mobile and web applications that span multiple platforms and devices without the need to focus on server management and related tasks.
Zuckerberg’s 11th hour appearance underscores the big push Facebook is making in applications, as it strives to make itself into more than just a destination for sharing memes and Likes. The social network is doubling down on developers, building new tools for them and offering incentives for integrating Facebook's social features into mobile and Web applications.
The company already offers Facebook Platform, which provides services that help developers create Facebook-interacting applications. The Parse acquisition extends that vision.
In June, Parse said that over 100,000 applications are using its services, up by 20,000 since Parse joined Facebook. Parse is still growing quickly, according to cofounder and CEO Ilya Sukhar.
“The idea is that Parse fits into Facebook’s current vision, which is that Facebook Platform should be the top platform to build, grow, and monetize cross-platform applications,” Sukhar said.
In continuing the play to get more developers using its services, Parse announced five new products on Thursday. The two biggest additions are Background Jobs and Parse Analytics. Background Jobs allows developers to schedule recurring tasks, such as sending emails to users. A new analytics tool provides a dashboard to track any data points about an application.
Parse announced the Unity SDK, the one mentioned in conjunction with Facebook’s announcement last week, which brings Parse services to Unity games across all platforms. The company also released two new cloud modules including the image module that will make it easy to pull photos from Parse-powered apps.
“As you watch Parse going forward, Parse will become the underlying layer that people build on, and pull in various Facebook services in when they need them,” Sukhar said in an interview. “That’s what we’re focused on, and that’s how the product will evolve.”
It’s clear that the recent announcements from Facebook and Parse show an importance on building products for, and relationships with, the developer community.
“At Facebook, what were trying to do is build tools that help you do two things,” Zuckerberg said. “Build and grow your apps.”