Reddit’s new API pricing will kill off Apollo on June 30

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1686810186 getty reddit icon 760x380.jpg
1686810186 getty reddit icon 760x380.jpg
The Reddit app icon on a smartphone screen.
Enlarge / The Reddit iOS app icon.

Getty Images | Yuriko Nakao

If there was any doubt about Reddit’s most popular third-party app, Apollo, surviving the $20 million API bill Reddit slapped it with last week, wonder no more. Like most third-party apps, Apollo developer Christian Selig announced Apollo would shut down on June 30. The news comes on the heels of a movement gaining support across Reddit, where currently almost 1,500 subreddits plan to “go dark” on June 12 to protest the high API prices.

Selig writes, “June 30th will be Apollo’s last day. I’ve talked to a lot of people, and come to terms with this over the last weeks as talks with Reddit have deteriorated to an ugly point.” Selig says that while charging some amount of money for Reddit’s API would be “understandable,” the developer says Reddit’s costs and timelines are just too much to overcome and that “[i]t’s much cheaper for me to simply shut down.” Selig says Apollo will continue working until the end of the month, when they will delete the API token.

It’s not clear that Reddit wants third-party apps to survive this pricing change, as we don’t know of a single app that says it can continue under Reddit’s terms. Selig says Reddit wants $12,000 for 50 million API requests, while Imgur, a similar social media photo site, charges $166 for 50 million API calls. Selig says even if users were willing to pay out of pocket for the API costs, Reddit announced the new billing plan one month before it would take effect, and Selig says that’s just not feasible for developers.

“Going from a free API for 8 years to suddenly incurring massive costs is not something I can feasibly make work with only 30 days,” Selig said. “That’s a lot of users to migrate, plans to create, things to test, and to get through app review, and it’s just not economically feasible. It’s much cheaper for me to simply shut down.” Selig added, “even more than the large price associated with the API, the 30 day timeline between when the pricing was announced and developers will be charged is a far, far, far bigger issue and not one I can overcome.” Selig has asked for more time to meet Reddit’s API demands and has either been met with denial or silence.

Another concern is that some users have already paid for annual Apollo plans under the old, free API plan that would immediately start incurring large bills that can’t be accounted for. Even if Apollo wanted to take the questionable path of voiding all prepaid yearly plans, a lot of those subscriptions are through Apple, and that’s against the rules. Apollo and other apps will immediately be in the red. Even now, Selig says offering pro-rated refunds to existing users is going to cost “about $250,000.”

Apollo has millions of users, including some high-ranking people at Apple, where Selig used to be an intern. The app has an “Editor’s Choice” award from the App Store and regularly gets shouted out at Apple’s WWDC. At this week’s show, Apollo was shown several times and got a direct mention from Apple’s SVP of software engineering, Craig Federighi. (Selig says these were recorded before the whole pricing situation and weren’t a show of solidarity or anything.) Apple even mentioned Apollo as being compatible with the upcoming Apple Vision Pro headset, but with the app shutting down at the end of the month, that will never happen now.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise