Turmoil as Reddit API changes might accidentally kill third-party Reddit clients

Reddit API changes
Fan of Reddit is Fun, Sync, Apollo, Boost, Relay, or Slide? Big changes and uncertainty are on the horizon for all third-party Reddit clients on Android and iOS. 

In a big move announced just yesterday, Reddit plans to start charging developers of third-party Reddit clients for access to the Reddit API. The fee won't be set and will vary depending on every app's usage of the API, and Reddit intends to "be reasonable with pricing, not prohibitively expensive". 

Before we detail the changes, it's important to know a few things first. Why do people go out of their way to use third-party Reddit clients? Some may argue that apps like Apollo, Relay, and Boost offer deep customization and personalization, and that's objectively true, while others will unabashedly state that they simply hate the mobile Reddit app, which subjectively has some merit to it. 

There's another reason, though: monetization, or the lack thereof. Reddit is free to use, but ad-supported, both on desktop and mobile. Reddit users that subscribe to Reddit Premium don't get to see ads but have to pay $5.99 per month. In stark contrast, third-party apps usually offer a similar ad-free experience with better app customization at a much lower price, which definitely makes them way better value. Some Reddit clients even allow you to purchase a lifetime premium experience for an often very affordable and reasonable one-time payment.

So, is cost the official reasoning behind the change? Apollo's developer, Christian Sellig a.k.a. u/iamthatis, who had a couple of phone calls with Reddit representatives, clarifies that the inherent reason for the changes is not further monetization of Reddit itself, but merely covering the costs of providing an API to third-party Reddit clients in the first place, which is seemingly an ever-growing expense for Reddit. Sadly, no matter how big or prominent a Reddit client is, free access to the API will no longer be offered, so third-party apps will either have to go with an ad-supported tier or adopt adjusted premium subscription plans. 

Recommended Stories
Third-party apps reportedly draw more and more taxing traffic and lure away users from the monetized ad-supported official Reddit app on iOS and Android, which definitely hurts the bottom-line. That's a big issue considering Reddit is targeting the second half of 2023 for its anticipated IPO. 

At the same time, Apollo's developer was ensured that Reddit highly values third-party Reddit clients and doesn't intend to kill them off in favor of its own first-party creation. 

What's more, the upcoming API changes will prevent third-party Reddit clients from accessing and displaying mature posts labeled as NSFW (not safe for work). The change seemingly will affect only sexual content, so regular posts labeled as NSFW due to one reason or another shouldn't be affected by the looming changes. For example, if a non-sexual post on r/AskReddit gets labeled as NSFW, it shouldn't be affected, not to mention that labeling non-NSFW posts as NSFW is an inside joke across multiple subreddits. 

All of these changes will reportedly be implemented while having a dialogue with the developers of third-party Reddit apps. The changes won't take place right away, but will likely get implemented in the coming months. 

What do Reddit users say about the upcoming API changes? Needless to say, Apollo users were quite vocal on the topic:

u/DigiQuip says: "Reddit has struggled to find investors and buyers of the app due to the legal risks of allowing NSFW content on the platform. But, at the same time, the NSFW content is huge part of its users base. This may just be the slow transition towards removing the content altogether and allow them the opportunity to see how it impacts their traffic."

u/ChaoticShadows: "I sense that I’ll be leaving Reddit very soon just as I did with Twitter. The monetization has begun. Resistance is useless. Soon you will be paying a subscription for everything."

u/ReverandJohn: "Welp looks like Reddit is about to become yet another site that got too big for its britches and killed itself."

u/SafeMeasurement9: "How this could ever be a positive change? It’s beyond me how much we are ready to justify corporations, it’s a negative change, in every single way. Not paying a subscription for a social network, I’m out of it"

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless