If you are starting to get a sense that companies are simply rebranding everything as cloud services then you are absolutely right. E-mail is referred to as cloud communication, web hosting as cloud hosting, APIs are cloud services, etc. Whatever you want to call them, software services are relying on cloud and web services more and more. This can have great benefits for businesses as well as consumers. Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services are giving us almost unlimited scalability at a very small initial cost, Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox, and others are making sharing of information and documents easier and dozens of start-ups are creating platforms that allow companies to launch new services faster than ever.
This goes hand in hand with the rise of BaaS (Backend as a Service) companies, which are providing easy-to-integrate cloud-based services for mobile developers. App developers have a need for such backend cloud functionality as push notifications and location services, photo and file sharing, user management, chat, ratings, and reviews (as you can see from the Infographic above, courtesy of Appcelerator).
There are at least 20 companies that now focus on BaaS in one form or another:
Stackmob, Parse, Kinvey, Apple's iCloud, RhoMobile, Appcelerator (Cocoafish), FeedHenry Astrum Space, Scotty App, Webmynd, YorAPI, CloudyRec, Applicasa, QuickBlox, mobDB, Netmera, Kumulos, CodeCloud.io, Sencha.io,Tiggzi and Zipline Games (through its Moai platform).
There are also a couple of large companies that could move into this space very easily, including Amazon with its AWS products, Microsoft with its Azure Cloud, Google with App Engine, and Rackspace.
As Dan Rowinski in ReadWriteMobile comments, there are several things to look out for when picking your BaaS:Foremost is REST API creation and management. REST (representational state transfer) is a software architecture for distributing media from a website (or in this case, a mobile app). Any BaaS provider worth its salt should have significant aptitude with REST APIs.
Big companies are getting in on the mobile cloud services act fast. Nestle Water recently announced their decision to take up China-based e-Future´s mobile cloud service, Sales Force Automation, in what is likely to be followed by other corporates soon.