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New Reddit API Pricing Strategy Could Mean Big Trouble for Popular Third-Party Apps

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A new development cost could spell trouble for Reddit app developers.

Reddit has implemented a new pricing strategy that has essentially increased the cost of its API – the interface used by third-party developers to access and use Reddit data.

And unfortunately, apps such as the popular Reddit reader Apollo are going to feel the pinch in a big way.

“I’ll cut to the chase: 50 million requests costs $12,000, a figure far more than I ever could have imagined,” said Apollo developer Christian Selig in a recent Reddit post. Apollo is used by millions of users to browse and read Reddit, and it looks as though that popularity will now come at a cost.

Apollo apparently made 7 billion requests last month – a sum that would now cost the company $1.7 million per month or around $20.4 million per year.

“Even if I only kept subscription users, the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day, which would cost $2.50 per month,” he explained. “[This] is over double what the subscription currently costs, so I'd be in the red every month.”

“I'm deeply disappointed in this price,” he added. “Reddit iterated that the price would be… reasonable and based in reality, and… they would not operate like Twitter. Twitter's pricing was publicly ridiculed for its obscene price of $42,000 for 50 million tweets. Reddit's is still $12,000.”

He also added that Apollo currently pays just $166 for 50 million API calls using Imgur.

Apollo, along with other third-party Reddit apps, uses the Reddit API to access posts and other data, effectively displaying it in their app without Reddit’s advertising – usually replacing it with their own. Obviously, this costs Reddit when it comes to advertising revenue, and according to other devs, this is one of the key motives behind the change.

“As part of this [change] they are blocking ads in third-party apps,” said a developer from the popular Reddit app, RIF. “[This makes] up the majority of RIF's revenue. So, they want to force a paid subscription model onto RIF's users. Meanwhile, Reddit's official app still continues to make the vast majority of its money from ads.”

Additionally, changes to the API are said to remove NSFW content from third-party apps while preserving it on the official Reddit app.

Selig maintains that this new pricing structure is unreasonable. “I don't see how this pricing is anything based in reality or remotely reasonable,”he said. “I hope it goes without saying that I don't have that kind of money or would even know how to charge it to a credit card.”

Whether or not such high pricing for its API is even remotely feasible for app developers, in the long run, remains to be seen. Might be a good time to get familiar with Reddit’s default web interface… just in case.


Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

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