Reddit Might Destroy Third-Party Reddit Apps (Update: Reddit Is Resisting)

Reddit stock photo 3

Reddit stock photo 3

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

TL; DR

  • Third-party Reddit apps are in big trouble due to an upcoming API access change.
  • According to one developer, continuing to allow access to an app could cost up to $20 million a year.
  • Even if apps switched to supporting only paid users, it would still be unsustainable.

Update, May 31, 2023 (6:13 PM ET): In the original article below, we said that we reached out to Reddit to clarify this issue with third-party Reddit apps. We now have a response from the company.

A Reddit spokesperson had this to say:

We’ve been in contact with third-party apps and developers, including Apollo, over the past six weeks following our initial announcement about the API changes, and our stance on third-party apps hasn’t changed. We are committed to fostering a safe and responsible developer ecosystem around Reddit Developers and third-party apps can improve Reddit and do so in a mutually beneficial, sustainable partnership while keeping our users and data safe.

Extensive access to data has impact and costs, and in terms of security and privacy, we have an obligation to our communities to be responsible stewards of data.

Finally, Reddit data for commercial use will need to adhere to our updated API terms of service and premium access program. We have a long-standing policy in our past terms outlining commercial and non-commercial use, but unfortunately some of these agreements have not been met, so we have clarified our terms and contacted selected organizations to work with them on compliance and a premium access level payment.

It seems that Reddit is not backing down from this change. Judging by this statement and Christian Selig’s blog post, most third-party Reddit apps may not survive.


Original article, May 31, 2023 (4:22 PM ET): In April of this year, Reddit announced some significant changes to come. In a blog post, the company confirmed it would start charging some developers for third-party access to Reddit’s APIs. The language of the blog post was incredibly vague, referring only to a new premium entry point for API access for developers who require additional features, higher usage limits, and broader usage rights. In other words, the more data developers use, the more it will cost them.

Now, we actually have some numbers to go with this impending policy shift. According to Christian Selig, the lead developer of Apollo, an iOS-only third-party Reddit app Reddit plans to charge about $12,000 for 50 million requests. This might seem reasonable to non-developers, but Selig makes it clear that this is terrible news.

According to Selig, Apollo saw a whopping seven billion API requests in April 2023. When you do the math, it would have had to pay Reddit $1.7 million that month. That would equate to about $20 million each year.

Like many third-party Reddit apps, Apollo has a paid tier. But, even with that income, the numbers don’t add up. The average Apollo user uses 344 requests a day, which would cost $2.50 a month, Selig says in a Reddit post on the matter. That number is more than double what the subscription currently costs, so I’d be in the red every month, he said she.

Of course, Selig (and other developers running Reddit apps) might just be charging users more money. However, Selig believes the amount of money Reddit plans to charge is not based in reality. He goes on to do some extrapolation of how much money the average Reddit user makes and comes to the conclusion that it’s about $0.12 a month.

You read that right: If these numbers are true, Reddit is asking developers to pay 20 times more than each user brings in revenue to the company. Obviously, Selig thinks it’s unfair.

Selig stops short of saying he would shut down Apollo if this policy is passed. However, he makes it very clear that he could not afford to support it, implying that Apollo would need to go dark. It goes without saying that if that happens for Apollo, all but the smallest third-party Reddit apps would follow suit.

Android authority reached out to Reddit for a statement on the matter. We will update this article if and when we hear back.

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