Amazon is launching a new service called Honeycode that makes it possible for Amazon Web Services customers to build their own apps without any coding experience.
The service, which Amazon announced on Wednesday, will be free for up to 20 users. After that, customers can pay to add more users and additional storage.
The service is designed for companies that need to build apps for event scheduling, customer-relationship management, and content and inventory tracking among other tasks. Rather than using a spreadsheet to track such data or hiring a developer with coding experience to build management apps, Amazon is hoping that Honeycode will serve as a compelling alternative.
Workplace communication software provider Slack and paid image-sharing service SmugMug are among the first to use Honeycode, and it’s now available in Oregon with more regions coming soon.
Honeycode’s interface will take the form of a spreadsheet, making it easy to manage for those that are familiar with office tools but have no coding experience. Its backend, however, will be powered by an AWS-development database.
“Many teams try to use simple spreadsheets as a Band-Aid to manage these tasks, but spreadsheets lack true database-like capabilities to sort and filter data, make collaboration with others hard to do, and are difficult to use on mobile devices,” Amazon wrote in a statement announcing the product. “Customers try to solve for the static nature of spreadsheets by emailing them back and forth, but all of the emailing just compounds the inefficiency because email is slow, doesn’t scale, and introduces versioning and data syncing errors.”
Amazon’s AWS is the market leader for the cloud infrastructure as a service market, with research firm Gartner estimating in 2019 that Amazon had accounted for 47.8% of the market. Offering a new perk, like easy tools for building apps, could help Amazon keep its stronghold over Microsoft and other rivals.
AWS is also Amazon’s biggest moneymaker, accounting for 77% of the company’s total operating profit.
Although Amazon’s tool seems squarely aimed at businesses that need easy-to-use management tools and may lack coding experience, Honeycode is the latest effort by a large tech company to introduce app building to non-technical audiences. Google, for example, launched a game called Grasshopper in 2018 that’s meant to teach adults the basic principles of coding. Apple, meanwhile, has built school curriculum to help elementary and middle school students get into coding.