Facebook is shutting down Parse, its tool for helping developers build and grow mobile apps, in a surprise move that comes a day after Facebook delivered blockbuster fourth-quarter financial results.
Parse announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will be gradually shut down until it finally turns off completely on January 28th, 2017.
When Parse was gobbled up by Facebook in 2013, it was reported that the social network spent somewhere around $85 million.
At the time, a year after its IPO, Facebook's future was uncertain, and it was looking for additional lines of business that could help spark growth. Now, Facebook's ad business is exploding and it can afford to focus on its core product.
The short version is that Parse was a cloud computing platform that competed with the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, and Salesforce Heroku as a service for developers to build and host their apps.
But the cloud market is intensely competitive--Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure in particular are so big, and so focused, that their prices keep going down while the number of features they can offer only go up and up.
Facebook may have concluded that it can't realistically compete with that, long-term. And so, Parse gets shut down while Facebook focuses its attentions elsewhere.
"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," wrote Parse co-founder and head Kevin Lacker.
Facebook is always walking a fine line with its developer community: It needs Facebook-powered apps to keep its growth alive. But it can only do so much, for so many developers. And with Amazon and Microsoft eating this market alive, it seems Facebook decided to cut its losses and work with that community in different ways.
Developers have a year to get their stuff off of Parse, or else Facebook is offering a few different tools to help developers make sure their apps can keep running after the shutdown.