Reddit's doing a Twitter and killing off your favourite apps

Want to make a third party Reddit app? It could cost you twenty million dollars

Apollo app for Reddit
(Image credit: Christian Selig)

It looks like Reddit is following in the cursed footsteps of Elon Musk's Twitter by removing third party apps. It isn't doing it directly: as Twitter did, it's hiking the price it charges third-party developers to connect to the service and making the price so high it's unaffordable. 

The news comes via Christian Selig, creator of the excellent Apollo app. Posting on r/apolloapp, he shared the details of a call he had with Reddit about their pricing. "Bad news for third-party apps," he wrote. "Their announced pricing is close to Twitter's pricing, and Apollo would have to pay Reddit $20 million per year to keep running as-is." That's much more money than Apollo could possibly hope to bring in, let alone pay out.

Why is Reddit playing hardball with app developers?

The short answer is money: Reddit doesn't bring in as much money as it would like; Selig estimates that their average revenue per user is about $0.12 a month, a fraction of what other social networks bring in. That's not a huge surprise given some of the really unsavoury subreddits the site still hosts, so perhaps Reddit thinks it'd be easier to squeeze more cash out of developers than sanitise the site.

Selig is clearly baffled. "With the proposed API pricing, the average user in Apollo would cost $2.50, which is is 20x higher than a generous estimate of what each users brings Reddit in revenue." It's also likely to be much more than app users would be willing to pay.

I think that, like Twitter, Reddit is making a mistake here. By their very nature, power apps are used by power users: typically the people who are the most loyal to the platform and who generate much of its content. The end of third-party Twitter apps such as Tweetbot have made Twitter demonstrably worse, with power users moving from beautifully designed, useful and compelling apps to a site that barely works and is stuffed with terrible ads and terrible people. It's a bit like swapping a BMW for a donkey.

Selig has asked Reddit if there's any flexibility, and was told no. Hopefully the publicity around his post will encourage the site to reconsider.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (