Apollo app to shut down as Reddit API dispute somehow gets uglier

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Reddit’s most popular third-party app, Apollo, will shut down due to new API fees

Reddit’s recent decision to charge third-party developers exorbitant fees for API access just killed off it’s biggest, most popular app.

Apollo for Reddit will shut down for good at the end of the month, according to developer Christian Selig.

“In order to avoid incurring charges I will delete Apollo’s API token on the evening of June 30th PST,” Selig wrote in a long Reddit post(opens in a new tab) detailing the decision to shut down Apollo. “Until that point, Apollo should continue to operate as it has, but after that date attempts to connect to the Reddit API will fail.”

Apollo is a third-party Reddit client that has become extremely popular with the platform’s usebase over the years due to its streamlined design and easy accessibility. Some Redditors have shared that they would actually refrain from using Reddit entirely if they couldn’t experience the platform via Apollo. Selig told TechCrunch(opens in a new tab) last month that Apollo has 900,000 daily active users. Mobile app analytics firm Data.ai(opens in a new tab) tells Mashable that Apollo for Reddit has been downloaded an estimated 5 million times globally.

Selig went public last week with the issues he was having with Reddit regarding the company’s choice to start charging third-party developers for API access. According to Selig, after numerous back-and-forths with Reddit, it became clear that the new API model would cost the solo developer $20 million per year just to run Apollo.

According to Selig, the API cost per user would come out to more than what Apollo for Reddit users pay for the premium plan on his freemium app. While Reddit’s API subscription plan is based on a pay-per-use model, Selig shared that the 30 day timeframe the company had given before switching to the paid plans would further limit his ability to make changes to the app to find a feasible way forward.

Selig, along with many other developers, weren’t originally concerned when Reddit shared it was looking to start charging earlier this year. The company had hinted that the decision to move to a paid API model was to curb AI language training and other uses that weighed heavily on Reddit’s systems without improving Reddit users’ experiences. However, this turned out not to be the case as even third-party apps, like Apollo, which enhance Reddit users’ experience and encourage more use of the platform, are being affected.

Reddit API policy draws a line in the sand

However, one of the more unusual events that unfolded around this saga between Reddit and Apollo is the hostility the company appears to have shown its most popular third-party developer.

Shortly after Selig went public with the situation at the beginning of the month, a Reddit employee publicly criticized Apollo, claiming that the app was “inefficient” with its API requests, which is why it would cost Selig so much. Selig and even other third-party Reddit developers came to the Apollo-creators’ defense and disputed the “inefficient” claim.

But then in Selig’s post announcing the shut down, he shared the most bizarre allegation about Reddit: Employees, including Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, had claimed Selig tried to “blackmail” the company by “threatening” he’d go public with the API issues if they didn’t pay him $10 million.

Selig said he happened to record the call where this conversation went down and shared the purported transcript(opens in a new tab) and call recording on Thursday. It’s clear from both that Selig was jokingly offering to sell his app to Reddit for half what the company claimed Apollo was costing them in API requests. In fact, on this May 31 phone call, Selig immediately received an apology from Reddit for misinterpreting what Selig was saying. Nevertheless, according to Selig, Reddit moderators shared a transcript of a call Reddit’s CEO had with them where the company is still claiming Selig tried to “blackmail” them to “stay quiet.”

According to The Verge(opens in a new tab), Reddit is planning its own response regarding the API changes in the coming days, including an AMA with Reddit CEO Huffman on Friday.

To add to everything, this is all going down the same week where Apollo for Reddit was a featured app during Apple’s big WWDC 2023 event – and even received a mention from Apple’s Craig Federighi. Apollo for Reddit was also shown as one of the apps currently compatible with Apple Vision Pro, a product that won’t be released to the public until after Apollo shuts down. 

“I’m sorry I won’t be able to see that happen,” Selig said regarding the Apollo’s compatibility with Vision Pro.

While Apollo may be shutting down, Redditors aren’t giving up. The broad Reddit community is planning to protest Reddit’s API changes with subreddits planning to “go dark” and temporarily shut down for a 48-hour period starting June 12. There are currently more than 3,100 subreddit communities planning to take part in the protest including some of the platform’s largest such as r/aww, r/gaming, r/Music, r/Pics, and r/todayilearned.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise