Home / Software / Apps / Popular third-party Reddit app Reddit’s new API pricing forced Apollo’s closure

Popular third-party Reddit app Reddit’s new API pricing forced Apollo’s closure

Apollo, a popular third-party Reddit app, will close on June 30, 2023, due to Reddit’s new API pricing plans, which would cost Apollo $20 million per year to operate. This is unsustainable for an indie developer. Christian Selig, the app’s creator, was one of the first to point out that even if Apollo switched to a subscription-only model, it would still be in the red under Reddit’s new API pricing. Since then, other app makers have voiced their concerns, and community backlash has prompted a site-wide protest with several top communities planning to go dark to send a message to Reddit leadership.

In an interview with The New York Times, Reddit announced its plans to change its API pricing to prevent companies from training their AI systems on its large online forum site. Given the price increases, Reddit claims the move was not meant to “kill” third-party apps.

After his pricing call with Reddit, Selig seemed to realize running the app would be unprofitable.

“I’ll cut to the chase: 50 million requests costs $12,000, a figure far more than I ever could have imagined,” he wrote on the Apollo app’s subreddit last week. “Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which would put it at about 1.7 million dollars per month, or 20 million US dollars per year,” he said, adding that he was “deeply disappointed in this price” and that Reddit had promised reasonable pricing and not operate like Twitter.

Under new owner Elon Musk, Twitter’s API price hikes drove out many startups, helpful bots, and third-party clients. Researchers and academics were affected, leading to widespread ridicule and criticism of Twitter’s greed-driven destruction of its developer community.

Reddit users are upset to see the same thing happening on their favorite forum site. r/aww, r/videos, r/Futurology, r/LifeHacks, r/bestof, r/gaming, r/Music, r/Pics, r/todayilearned, r/art, r/DIY, r/gadgets, r/sports, r/mildlyinteresting, and others are organizing to go dark on June 12 to protest the changes. Several of these communities are over 10 million people. The protest involves 2,740 subreddits and 1.31+ billion (non-unique) users.

Selig announced that Apollo will be shut down permanently due to Reddit’s new pricing.

In his new, lengthy post, he addresses a variety of questions and concerns raised over the past few days, including Apollo’s use of Reddit’s API, which the company accused of operating inefficiently and not being a “good” API user. Selig open-sourced the server code to prove Apollo does not scrape, as Reddit claimed. He also addressed Reddit’s comments (for which he has recorded calls) about third-party apps not wanting to work with the company, saying he’s not sure where Reddit got that impression.

The API changes’ fallout and how they happened are explained in Selig’s FAQ, but it doesn’t change the outcome. Apollo closes forever. Despite support from the r/Blind community, the app will not qualify for the newly announced accessibility app exception.

Apollo is not the first third-party app to close due to these changes. RIF (Reddit is Fun) and ReddPlanet developers said their apps would close by month’s end. Infinity for Reddit released a paid version to sustain the app.

Apollo launched on the App Store in 2017 with unique features like customizable gestures, a media viewer, a full Markdown writing editor, and other Reddit user feedback-inspired features. Apollo’s iOS-friendly design, customizability, and power user features have won over users. Selig has regularly added iOS features like Lock Screen widgets, Dynamic Island support, and more to his Reddit app to make it feel like an Apple product.

Ironically, Apollo was just featured at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this week, where it was mentioned several times during Craig Federighi’s 2023 WWDC keynote and during the Vision Pro announcement, which showed Apollo as one of the apps compatible with Apple’s new headset, notes Selig.

Third-party data estimates.Apollo was close to 5 million installs.

“I genuinely wish this could have ended differently, and up until this week, I was excited about the future of working with Reddit,” Selig told. “But I’ve seen over the past week that Reddit no longer has any interest in making this work, and is engaging in tactics that I don’t want to be a part of, so I’ve decided to close Apollo permanently on June 30th,” he said.

Apollo users can download Pixel Pals, a fun app that grew out of an Apollo feature that put cute little pets on the iPhone’s Dynamic Island, to support Selig during the transition.

“Thankfully done pretty well and I’ll be spending more time on going forward,” he said.

 

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