Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
TL;DRThird-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 upwards of $20 million each year. Even if apps transitioned to only supporting paid users, it still would likely be untenable.
In April this year, Reddit announced some significant changes coming down the pipeline. In a blog post, the company confirmed it would begin charging some developers for third-party access to Reddit APIs. The language of the blog post was incredibly vague, referencing only “a new premium access point” for API access for developers that “require additional capabilities, higher usage limits, and broader usage rights.” In other words, the more data devs use, the more it will cost them.
Now, we actually have some numbers to associate with this upcoming policy change. According to Christian Selig — the lead developer of Apollo, an iOS-only third-party Reddit app — Reddit plans on charging about $12,000 per 50 million requests. This might sound 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. Doing the math, he would have needed to pay Reddit $1.7 million that month. That would equate to around $20 million each year.
Like a lot of 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 per day, which would cost $2.50 per month,” Selig says in a Reddit post on the matter. That number “is over double what the subscription currently costs, so I’d be in the red every month,” he said.
Of course, Selig (and other devs who run Reddit apps) could just charge users more money. However, Selig thinks that 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 brings in, and comes to the conclusion that it’s about $0.12 each month.
You read that right: if these numbers are true, Reddit is asking for devs to pay 20x more than what each user brings in revenue to the company. Obviously, Selig thinks that’s unfair.
Selig stops short of saying that he would shut Apollo down if this policy goes through. However, he makes it very clear that he could not afford to sustain it, which implies Apollo would need to go dark. It goes without saying that if this happens for Apollo, all but only the very smallest third-party Reddit apps would follow suit.
Android Authority has reached out to Reddit for a statement on this. We will update this article if and when we hear back.