Amazon beefs up mobile offering with cloud notifications

Amazon has built up its presence in the mobile space this week with the launch of a cloud-based, cross platform push notification service, making large scale notifications more accessible to developers.

Using the Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) API, application developers can send notifications to Apple iOS, Google Android and Kindle Fire devices.

Supporting push notifications at large scale has been incredibly complicated for mobile app developers, Amazon claims, noting that each popular mobile platform maintains a different free relay service that delivers notifications through persistent connections to devices running on the respective platforms.

This means that, to support millions of users on multiple mobile platforms, developers must integrate with each of these platform-specific relay services, which introduces operational complexity and cost. In addition, the nature of mobile app distribution is such that successful apps can become popular almost overnight, exacerbating these challenges for customers.

The Amazon API can send messages to individual users on specific devices or broadcast identical messages to many subscribers at once, and can scale from a few notifications a day to hundreds of millions via SMS and email.

“Many customers tell us they build and maintain their own mobile push services, even though they find this approach expensive, complex and error-prone,” said Raju Gulabani, Vice President of Database Services, AWS. “Amazon SNS with Mobile Push takes these concerns off the table with one simple cross-platform API, a flat low price and a free tier that means many customers won’t pay anything until their applications achieve scale.”

Urban Airship is a company that saw an opportunity to build on Apple’s  introduction of push notifications in 2009, making it easier for developers to build this new engagement layer into their apps. The company offers end-to-end management of the push messaging process from customer and location targeting, to automation and delivery, including message composition and analytics.

Scott Kveton, CEO of Urban Airship, said apps have become the core focus for brands seeking deeper connections with their customers and “push notifications have gone from a technical capability to a proven lifeline for apps looking to grow and sustain user engagement.” The company handles massive scale and high-performance requirements from real-time organisations including ESPN, The London Olympics, Sky Broadcasting and television networks.

“As major players like Amazon and Microsoft extend beyond their own devices to make it easy for developers to add simple, cheap and highly scalable cross-platform push notification support, developers of all stripes (with or without a revenue model) will have more options to add basic unicast and broadcast push notifications to their apps, and the industry will gain another voice beating the drum on the importance of push notifications.”

All AWS customers can begin using Mobile Push for Amazon SNS at no charge and send up to one million notifications each month for free. After that, customers pay $.50 for every million messages published, and $.50 for every million messages delivered ($1.00 total per million push notifications).

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