Canadian app Apollo to shut down amid user protest against Reddit API pricing

Apollo developer Christian Selig
The app, founded in Halifax, was created to improve Reddit for iOS users.

Canadian-founded Apollo, a third-party application for browsing the discussion-forum site Reddit, is shutting down on June 30 as it gets priced out by Reddit’s changes to its application programming interface (API) policies.

Apollo founder Christian Selig announced the forthcoming closure last week. In a statement made in the r/Apollo subreddit, or online community on Reddit, he noted the high costs of continuing to run Apollo and the short transition period that Reddit offered to third-party app developers. Selig, who is the only developer working on Apollo, is based in Halifax.

Selig said he would have to pay Reddit $2 million per month, or over $20 million per year, to continue Apollo.

More than 6,000 subreddits are going dark this week, making themselves closed for non-community members, to protest Reddit’s new developers fees and the potential loss of third-party apps because of this decision.

In April, Reddit announced significant changes that would be coming to its API. Notably, it is moving it to a paid model for third-party applications that require large-scale capabilities, like Apollo.

With the new changes, developers would be charged $12,000 per 50 million API requests. Selig said this would present a “large cost” to Apollo, likening it to Twitter’s recent move towards “outstandingly high API prices.”

With Apollo’s current usage, Selig claims he would have to dole out $2 million per month, or over $20 million per year.

Each API request represents one action completed with Reddit, such as upvoting, downvoting, commenting, loading posts, loading subreddits, checking for new messages, and blocking users, among others.

The $2-million estimate is “not an exaggeration,” according to Selig, who said the number is based on the seven billion API requests that Apollo made just last month.

Selig, a former Apple intern, launched Apollo in 2017 with the goal of creating an app for Reddit that would look like a product Apple itself had built. The platform competes with Reddit’s own mobile app and is designed to provide a better user interface for iOS users.

Apollo is a free app, though it offers two paid options, Pro and Ultra, that offer additional capabilities to users. The app has about 1.5 million monthly users, of which 50,000 are paid, Selig noted.

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As Selig noted, Reddit is implementing its paid model for APIs after Twitter introduced its API price structures in March, which has been publicly criticized for pricing out third-party app developers like researchers, emergency-alert services, and others.

Twitter offers three different tiers for enterprises. The cheapest version gives access to 50 million tweets and is priced at $42,000 per month. In a year, that would amount to just north of half a million: $504,000.

Twitter’s paid API is just one of several new revenue channels that Elon Musk introduced to the social media platform since he purchased it last year. Musk has acknowledged he overpaid for Twitter, which he acquired for $44 billion, and is now reportedly worth one-third of the purchase price.

Reddit’s new paid API policies could be an effort to optimize its cash flow, as well as it braces for the impact of the downturn in the tech sector.

Last week, Reddit slashed its workforce by five percent and reduced its hiring plans, following a trend of tech companies laying off employees to cut costs in a difficult fundraising environment.

Featured image courtesy Apollo.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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