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Popular Reddit app Apollo may go out of business due to Reddit’s new prohibitive API pricing


The creator of Apollo, one of the most popular third-party mobile apps for browsing Reddit, may have to close shop due to Reddit’s recently announced new API pricing terms. App developer Christian Selig shared today that Reddit’s API pricing appears to be bad news for the future of third-party Reddit apps, as it would now cost him $20 million a year to keep Apollo’s business running as it is. Customer reaction to Reddit’s terms is already growing in light of the news, given Apollo’s long history of thoughtful app updates, iOS-friendly design, and overall ease of use that have made the app a popular alternative to Reddit’s official client .

The news is unexpected, as Reddit had assured developers that the API’s pricing changes wouldn’t affect those building apps to help people use Reddit. Instead, the move was positioned as a way to protect Reddit’s sizable internet forum site from free fodder for companies training their AI systems on large swaths of the internet. Essentially, Reddit wanted to get paid for its “corpus of data,” founder and CEO Steve Huffman told me The New York Times in an interview.

According to his comments, developers who want to build apps and bots and researchers who want to study Reddit for academic or non-commercial purposes won’t have to pay for the API, he said.

But Selig says that won’t be the case, as it turns out.

In a post on Reddit, the developer shared that, according to calls he’s had with Reddit, 50 million requests will now cost $12,000 under the terms of the new API — “a much higher amount than I ever imagined,” he wrote.

“Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which equates to about $1.7 million a month, or $20 million a year,” Selig explains.

The developer also said making the app available only to subscribers to reduce requests would not be a solution as the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day, which would cost Apollo $2.50 per month. That figure is more than double what the subscription currently costs, Selig said.

The Apollo creator had multiple conversations with Reddit representatives to discuss these pricing issues, and while he characterized those conversations as civil and communicative, he said he was “deeply disappointed” with the results. (The company also gave him permission to post details of the call, which is why he’s sharing the information on Reddit and elsewhere on social media, he said.)

Reddit’s new API pricing would actually put Apollo out of business, it seems.

Apollo today has about 1.3 million to 1.5 million monthly active users, Selig told TechCrunch, and about 900,000 daily active users. Third-party estimates based on data.ai from app intelligence providers confirm that Apollo has had nearly 5 million global installs to date. While Selig declined to share details about Apollo’s earnings, he says, “It’s not even possible or even close to what Reddit charges.”

“In fact, if I put it another way, I’d still be in the red every month, even if I kicked out every user except those who pay for a subscription,” Selig complained. He also says there is no Plan B in the works as he was not expecting this kind of news.

Reddit was available for comment, but has not yet issued a statement. We plan to update with company comments as they are provided.

Reddit’s decision to make its API access too expensive follows a similar move by Twitter. The latter ultimately blocked much of Twitter’s third-party developer ecosystem from accessing Twitter’s developer tools. As a result, countless Twitter apps, clients, and services have since been shut down or rotated to focus on other areas, such as supporting open-source Twitter rival Mastodon.

Twitter finally relaxed its hefty pricing a bit and last week introduced a new $5,000 per month API tier aimed at making access a little more affordable. The new tier is between the $100 per month base and the $42,000 per month enterprise tier, but it still doesn’t solve the problem for smaller businesses as they need $60,000 per year to take advantage of 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 such as customizable gestures, a media viewer, a full Markdown writing editor, and other features inspired by feedback from Reddit users. Over the years, Apollo’s users have commented on the app’s customizability and powerful user features, as well as its iOS-friendly design. Selig said he intended to build a Reddit app that felt like it could have been built by Apple itself.

The developer was also quick to adopt new iOS features, as recently with the launch of Lock Screen widgets for iOS 16 for example. Plus, Selig had a little fun with the iPhone’s new “Dynamic Island” UI update that turned the pill-shaped notch on the top of the iPhone 14 Pro into a tapable and interactive notifications feature. He came up with smart Tamagotchi-style pets, or “Pixel Pals,” that could run around on the notch. The pets were so popular, they soon also got their own dedicated mobile app.

Since sharing his concerns on Reddit a few hours ago, Selig’s post about the future of Apollo 8.6K has received and growing upvotes. Not surprisingly, the app’s fans are pretty upset by this news, calling Reddit greedy, threatening to leave, and promising to support whatever Selig decides to build next, if this really is the end for their app of choice.

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