SAN FRANCISCO — In a world where there’s a smartphone app for everything, one company – Amazon – has long been the host for an outsized share of online software and computing services.

Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella wants to change that.

Nadella has poured billions of dollars into building new data centers around the world, hoping to position Microsoft as the leading alternative to Amazon in selling online computing power – housed in remote centers or “clouds” – to internet startups and big corporations, as well as consumers.

As evidence the investment is paying off, Microsoft Corp. reported Tuesday that its Azure cloud-computing business more than doubled in sales last quarter, compared with a year earlier. That growth, combined with increases in revenue from Windows software licenses and other key segments, helped offset a big decline in revenue from the Nokia smartphone business that Microsoft largely shut down last year.

If Amazon has been the undisputed king of the cloud, analysts say Microsoft, Google and a few other tech giants are emerging as rivals. The competition could mean lower prices and more innovation, both for businesses that buy cloud-computing services and for consumers who use popular apps – from Netflix to Pinterest and Airbnb – that run in the cloud.

Amazon pioneered the cloud business almost 10 years ago, when the online retailer began renting out unused capacity on its own servers. Estimates vary, depending on how you define “cloud computing,” but analysts at Synergy Research Group say Amazon today has more than 30 percent of the market, while Microsoft has 10 percent – partly on the strength of Microsoft’s promise that its cloud services are compatible with Microsoft software that customers already have on their own computers.

IBM and Google have 7 and 5 percent, respectively. Like Microsoft, IBM reported this week that its cloud revenues increased in the last quarter, despite a broader decline in its traditional software business.