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Summary:

Sources expect Amazon to preview its long-anticipated mobile app development infrastructure and services later this week in New York City.

Google says they are now thinking "mobile first" when developing for the web at MWC 2010
photo: Tricia Duryee

Amazon Web Services has been gearing up its mobile services for more than a year and it is now ready to showcase them. This Thursday, the company is expected to unveil its answer to Facebook’s Parse, and Microsoft Azure Mobile Services at the AWS Summit in New York, according to several sources close to the company.

AWS representatives would not comment. Amazon CTO Werner Vogels (pictured below) will keynote at the event.

It’s clear that AWS, long a fan favorite among developers, knows it needs to prove itself in mobile — after all, mobile-first app development has become the norm not only for fun-and-games apps but for big enterprise companies like Salesforce.com as well. Facebook’s acquisition of Parse last year also points to the demand for the mobile app development platform — sometimes known as Mobile Backend as a Service (or MBaaS.)

Instagram’s decision to move its infrastructure from AWS to Facebook was undoubtedly helped along by the fact that Facebook now owns Instagram, but that’s still the sort of migration Amazon would like to forestall going forward.

Werner Vogels AWS Structure 2014It is relatively easy for a developer that uses lower-level AWS services — base EC2 compute and S3 storage, for example — to move elsewhere. But if that same developer uses higher level services — workflow, databases etc. — that underlying platform becomes stickier — it provides more value but is also harder to leave. And AWS would dearly like mobile developers to stick around.

Sravish Sridhar, CEO of Kinvey, an enterprise-focused MBaaS company, seems philosophical about the emergence of a major rival that also happens to be a partner. Both Parse and Kinvey “were built on AWS,” he said via email. “Through their conversations with us as partners, AWS has probably seen how we’ve built our platforms and seen the customer adoption we have achieved over the last 3+ years. They’ve likely learned a lot from us. Now, they are attempting to take those learnings and capitalize on them.”

Amazon’s challenge is to convince mobile developers that its new services were built from scratch with mobility in mind and are not an afterthought. Sridhar said Kinvey’s advantage is that it lets developers build applications that run atop not just AWS but other private and public clouds — an important consideration for enterprise shops.

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