Facebook has just given developers a year to stop relying on its hosted Parse services, announcing it will shut down the services it acquired when it purchased the company of the same name in 2013.
That's bad news for people who have come to rely on the developer platform for things like providing push notifications, analytics and a server back end for applications. On Jan. 28, 2017, Facebook will stop providing those services.
Developers who don't want to rewrite their applications to work with a new back-end service provider can follow a migration guide from Parse to make their applications work with an independent MongoDB instance and a new open-source Parse Server that's running on Salesforce-owned developer platform provider Heroku.
The move comes as something of a surprise since Parse was a star of Facebook's recent F8 developer conferences. Just last month, Parse launched a set of new tools to help developers work with Apple's watchOS and tvOS last, and at the time, Parse Product Manager Supratik Lahiri promised more updates in the future.
Facebook said in a statement that it plans to dedicate more resources to creating "high-impact products and services in areas like analytics, monetization, discovery, and authentication." That points to the company doubling down on its free services for developers, like Analytics and the Login service that lets users authenticate with applications through their Facebook accounts.
Thursday's announcement is a sign of changing times for Facebook. The company purchased Parse in 2013, back when it wasn't as strong in the mobile market as it is now. Fast forward almost three years, and Facebook is much stronger in mobile, with 90 percent of the service's monthly active users accessing it on their phones in the last quarter of 2015.
It makes less business sense for Facebook to keep developing a paid developer platform, especially since major public cloud players like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are all also developing their own solutions. It seems to be betting it will get more value out of helping developers connect to its social network rather than selling them paid tools to build apps independent from it.