Appcelerator Acquires Mobile Cloud Services Startup Cocoafish

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Appcelerator, the company behind the popular Titanium app-building platform, is announcing its third acquisition today. The company is buying Cocoafish, a mobile app infrastructure provider that lets developers add various features to apps including messaging capabilities, push notifications, photo uploads, checkins and other social features, storage, discussion forums and more. Although the name implies an iOS affiliation, Cocoafish is actually a cross-platform backend service provider supporting iOS, Android, and even Flash and Ruby.

Starting in Q2 2012, the features Cocoafish previously offered will relaunch as “Appcelerator Cloud Services (ACS)” as a part of the company’s Titanium Platform, and as complete iOS, Android, REST and Javascript SDKs for non-Titanium customers.

The acquisition follows Appcelerator’s previous buyouts of other mobile app infrastructure providers, including the enterprise-focused Aptana and, more recently, Particle Code, which brought additional HTML5 capabilities to Titanium. With Cocoafish, Appcelerator is aiming for the broader mobile market, the company explains – not just Titanium users. Now developers using Objective-C, Java, PhoneGap, Sencha or HTML5 will have access to a scalable server-side backend, similar to what other backend service providers like StackMob, Urban Airship or Parse are offering.

According to Jeff Haynie, Appcelerator CEO, the company chose Cocoafish because it’s the “most complete solution.”

“We took a look at all these companies, and what we liked [about Cocoafish] was that they have 25 well-designed, well-tested services supported,” he explained. “They’re sets of interfaces that work together.”

However, it could be argued that other possible acquisition targets simply weren’t on the market. For example, Urban Airship has been doing a little acquiring of its own in recent months, snapping up SimpleGeo to fill out its own offerings. Asked if Appcelerator considered other companies prior to Cocoafish, Haynie said they “had all sorts of conversations at different levels” with competitors, but were ultimately drawn to Cocoafish for a few key reasons, beyond its feature set. The startup hadn’t raised money, were already profitable, and they were a small, 10-person bootstrapped team based in San Francisco. It just made sense.

The new Appcelerator-branded product will roll out on March 31st, but the company is already planning to continue the work Cocoafish had started. By Q3, the plan is to launch an on-demand, private cloud offering so developers with increased security needs can run the whole stack in their own cloud. There are also plans to support Node.js, expand the common services to offer more features (like video), and offer more identity management options for enterprise customers, like RSA SecureID and Active Directory support, for example.

Appecelerator today has over 35,000 apps that have been built using the Titanium platform, and those apps have been deployed on 40 million devices. But there are also 1.6 million web developers with the company who already use a Javascript API to build native or HTML5 apps, all of whom could also take advantage of ACS.

Although the acquisition makes Appcelerator a direct competitor to the other backend services it already supports in Titanium, Haynie assured us that there would be no change in terms of which backend services developers can use. “Like any platform company, you compete on some things, but on other things you’re helping each other out,” he said of how the new offering impacts competing services.