Reddit app developer says the site’s new API rules will cost him $20 million a year

The platform’s new developer policies could price out third-party apps like Apollo.


Reddit’s recently-announced plan to charge for API access could price out the developer of one of the most popular third-party Reddit apps. The developer of Reddit client Apollo is raising the alarm on the new API pricing, saying the changes would require him to spend millions of dollars to keep his app going in its current form.

Reddit announced sweeping changes to its API rules last month, citing the rise of AI companies using their platform to train large language models. “The Reddit corpus of data is really valuable,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman told The New York Times. “But we don’t need to give all of that value to some of the largest companies in the world for free.”

But it now seems that independent app makers will also be subject to the pricier new plans, which are set to take effect June 19th. While Reddit hasn’t officially disclosed its API pricing, Christian Selig, Apollo’s sole developer, says he would have to pay $20 million to keep his app going “as-is” under the new policies.

“50 million requests costs $12,000, a figure far more than I ever could have imagined,” he wrote in a post on Reddit, citing multiple conversations he’s had with Reddit representatives about the upcoming API changes. “Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which would put it at about 1.7 million dollars per month, or 20 million US dollars per year.”

That pricing leaves Selig and Apollo, which has been widely praised for its design details and for providing functionality beyond Reddit’s native app, in a tough position. While the app does offer subscriptions, its current revenue isn’t enough to cover the steep API cost. He says that the average user makes about 344 API calls a day, which would require him to raise subscription prices to at least $2.50 a month (currently, he says, most subscribers pay $0.99 a month). Furthermore, that wouldn’t account for Apollo’s power users, who use the app at much higher rates, or the app’s free users. “Even keeping the existing, subscription only users I would be SUBSTANTIALLY in the red each month,” Selig tells Engadget.

In a statement, a Reddit spokesperson said that Selig was provided “pricing per 1,000 API calls, not a monthly bill,” but declined to share details. “Our pricing is based on usage levels that we measure to be as equitable as possible,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve been, and will continue, to work with third-party apps to help them improve efficiency, which can significantly impact overall cost.”

If all of this sounds oddly familiar, there are striking similarities between Reddit’s new developer rules and the drastic changes Twitter has made to its API policies under Elon Musk. In Twitter’s case, the company decided to ban third-party client apps while simultaneously making its API extraordinarily expensive for the researchers and businesses that previously depended on higher levels of access to Twitter data.

Of note, Reddit hasn’t been as outwardly hostile to developers. Selig notes that he’s had multiple calls with Reddit and that reps he’s spoken to have been “communicative and civil” about the changes. And a Reddit spokesperson suggested the company wants to keep third-party apps around.

“We’re committed to fostering a developer ecosystem around Reddit – developers and third-party apps can make Reddit better,” the spokesperson said. “Our Data API has powered thousands of applications, such as tools to make moderation easier, and utilities that help users stay up to date on their favorite topics, and games. Developers are incredibly valuable to the Reddit ecosystem, so much so that we recently updated our Developer Platform.”

Still, Selig said he’s uncertain about how he will handle the changes. “I hope it goes without saying that I don't have that kind of money,” he shared on Reddit. “This is going to require some thinking.”

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