In a move that caught everyone by surprise, Google recently announced the sale of Google Domains to Squarespace. To many, this strategic realignment came out of left field, providing a glaring clue about the shape of Google’s new vision. The seismic shift to prioritise artificial intelligence (AI) has raised questions about the fate of Firebase, a Google-owned platform popular among developers.
What will come of Firebase?
Under Sundar Pichai’s leadership, Google has transformed from a mobile-first to an AI-first company. If Google Domains, a more traditional web offering, no longer fits within the framework of this AI-focused vision, where does Firebase fit in?
Firebase, a platform that facilitates the development of web and mobile applications, is deeply integrated with Google Cloud services. This integration allows developers to leverage a multitude of offerings that simplify various stages of the application lifecycle. However, Google’s track record of sunsetting popular products, like Google Reader and Google Hangouts, raises legitimate concerns about the future of Firebase.
Should Google choose to sunset Firebase, it could likely happen in one of two ways: the outright shutdown of the service or selling it off to another company. But as Firebase is deeply intertwined with Google Cloud services, selling it might mean a major disruption for users and the need for serious adjustment in its infrastructure by the buying party.
However, in this time of uncertainty, developers are looking exploratively at alternative back-end platforms like Supabase and Appwrite. Supabase, hailed as an open-source alternative to Firebase, offers a host of features and services that closely mirror those provided by Firebase (I vouch for Supabase). Appwrite takes it a step further by positioning itself as a complete back-end server for web, mobile, and Flutter developers. It provides a range of services, including user authentication, databases, storage management, and localisation, making it a potentially attractive alternative.
It pains me to say this as someone who loves Firebase and has shipped many apps with it. Still, in this uncertain economic climate and Google’s willingness to shut down products, I hesitate to use it for anything serious in 2023. I wouldn’t recommend it (unless Google comes out with strong reassurance). There are, fortunately, great alternatives, and given the popularity of Supabase, I would say there is still a strong demand for platforms like these.
As Google marches forward with its AI-based vision, the landscape is changing, and developers are left to wonder where they stand in this rapidly evolving picture. Although Firebase’s fate is hanging in the balance, the emergence of alternatives like Supabase and Appwrite hints at hope and continuity, offering a welcome safety net. Only time will reveal Google’s next move. But I wouldn’t wait to find out.