Big news, summarized by TechCrunch: Google Acquires Firebase To Help Developers Build Better Real-Time Apps
Firebase and Google need each other in order to make real-time happen in a way that is economically viable. The scale Google can provide cannot be understated and will be discussed endlessly.
From my amazing and hellish rapt.fm experience I learned that home-brew real-time apps — even if depending largely on open-source infrastructure — are very, very difficult to architect, to build, and to run reliably in scale. Firebase provides a “lower initial investment” way to run alive apps, and a huge community of developers have come to love their stack.
One obvious risk to using Firebase is lock-in (as with any service-framework amalgamation), and now this lock-in could include developers having to move to the Google cloud at some point. But this is also a reduction of risk; many who have invested development in Firebase can now be assured that for a longer span of time their system will be supported.