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Amazon and Microsoft battle for mobile cloud developers

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has added a critical component of mobile cloud to its stack in the form of mobile push notifications. Instead of introducing a new service, it augmented the existing Simple Notification Service (SNS), bolstering its move into the Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) market.

It is not a coincidence that AWS launched this just a few hours after Microsoft announcing the general availability of Notification Hubs, a service that lets developers deliver notifications to millions of users through a simple API call.

Mobile Backend as a Service is one of the fastest growing segments in the cloud services space. Since it can be consumed by a large number of developers without the pain of dealing with provisioning servers on IaaS or dealing with mundane code on PaaS, it’s been gaining a lot of traction. The recent acquisition of Parse by Facebook for a whopping $85 million is an indication of how hot this market is!

Coming back to the Microsoft and Amazon fight, winning the mobile developer market is critical for both these companies. While Amazon has a vested interest with its investments in the Kindle platform, it’s a must-win battle for Microsoft that is struggling with the Windows Phone and Windows 8 RT devices. There are subtle differences between the two services. Microsoft’s Notification Hubs feature is designed to reach millions of devices simultaneously while Amazon SNS Push Notifications follow the traditional model of publisher and subscriber. Customers enjoying the AWS Free Tier will get to send one million push notifications per month. With Microsoft Windows Azure Notification Hubs, the first 100,000 operations are free. The catch here is that these operations include both sending and receiving notifications.

As Barb Darrow from GigaOM points out in her article, this move from both the companies puts them in direct competition with dedicated MBaaS players like Urban Airship, Kinvey, Stackmob, AnyPresence, Apigee and of course Facebook (Parse).