Image Credits: Apollo app image via TechCrunch
The maker of Apollo, one of the most popular third-party mobile apps for browsing Reddit, may have to close up shop due to Reddit’s recent new API pricing terms. App developer Christian Selig shared today that Reddit’s API pricing looks like bad news for future third-party Reddit apps, as it now costs Apollo $20 million a year to run the business as it is. Customer response to Reddit’s terms is already growing, as Apollo makes news in terms of long-term app updates, iOS-friendly design, and overall ease of use.
The news comes as a surprise, as Reddit confirmed that API pricing changes for developers won’t affect those building apps to help people use Reddit. Instead, the move is pitched as a way for companies to train their AI systems on vast areas of the Internet, so that the giant Internet forum site Reddit doesn’t become free fodder. Basically, Reddit wanted to be paid for “its corpus of data,” founder and CEO Steve Huffman told The New York Times in an interview.
According to the comments, developers who want to build apps and bots and researchers who want to study Reddit for academic or non-commercial purposes will not have to pay for the API.
But as it turns out, Selig will not do this.
In a post on Reddit , the developer wrote that based on phone conversations with Reddit, 50 million requests would now cost $12,000 under the new API terms — “a figure that’s more than I could ever imagine.”
“Apollo handled 7 billion requests last month, which saves it about $1.7 million a month, or $20 million a year,” Selig said.
He said making the app available only to subscribers wouldn’t even be a solution to reducing the number of requests, which Apollo charges $2.50 a month because the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day. That figure is more than double what the subscription costs now, Selig said.
The Apollo maker has engaged in several conversations with Reddit representatives to discuss these pricing concerns, and while it described those discussions as civil and friendly, it said it was “very disappointed” with the outcome. (The company has given permission to post details of the call, which is why it’s sharing the information on Reddit and elsewhere on social media.)
It looks like Reddit’s new API pricing will effectively put Apollo out of business.
Apollo today has about 1.3 to 1.5 million monthly active users, according to Selig TechCrunch, and roughly 900,000 daily active users. A third-party estimate from app intelligence provider data.ai confirms that Apollo has had nearly 5 million global installs to date. While Selig declined to share specifics about Apollo’s revenue, he said, “It’s nowhere near what Reddit charges.”
“Even if I designed it differently, I’d be in the red every month even if I fired every user except the ones who paid a subscription,” Selig lamented. He said he had no plans in the works as he did not expect to receive such news.
Reddit has been contacted for comment but has yet to issue a statement. We plan to update the company’s comments as they become available.
Reddit’s decision to overprice its API access follows a similar move by Twitter. The latter ended up cutting off Twitter’s third-party developer ecosystem from accessing Twitter’s developer tools. As a result, many Twitter applications, clients, and services have been shut down or focused on other areas, such as supporting open source Twitter rival Mastodon.
Twitter has finally eased up a bit on its aggressive pricing and introduced a new $5000-per-month API tier last week. The new tier sits between the basic level of $100 per month and the enterprise level of $42,000 per month, but it still doesn’t solve the problem for small businesses, as they need $60,000 per year to use it.
Apollo first launched on the App Store in 2017 and let’s just say, I was a fan. At the time, the app offered a unique experience with features like customizable gestures, a media viewer, a full markdown text editor, and other features suggested by Reddit user feedback. Over the years, Apollo users have responded to the app’s customization and power-user features, as well as its iOS-friendly design. Selig says he aims to build a Reddit app that looks like something Apple could build on its own.
The developer has been quick to embrace new iOS features, as it recently did for iOS 16 when it launched lock screen widgets, for example. Selig also poked fun at the iPhone’s new “Flexible Island” user interface update, which turned the pill-shaped notch on the top of the iPhone 14 Pro into an interactive feature for care and notifications. He invented Tamagotchi-style pets, or “Pixel Pals,” intelligent pets that can run at high speeds. The pets were so popular that they soon got their own special mobile app.
Since sharing his concerns on Reddit a few hours ago, Selig’s post about the future of Apollo has received 8.6k upvotes and counting. Unsurprisingly, the app’s fans were outraged by the news, calling Reddit a scam, threatening to quit, and vowing to support whatever Selig decided to build next, if it truly was the end of their favorite app.