Apple Removing iOS and Mac Apps from Affiliate Program


With the launch of the new App Store on both iOS and macOS and their increased methods of app discovery, we will be removing apps from the affiliate program. Starting on October 1st, 2018, commissions for iOS and Mac apps and in-app content will be removed from the program. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) remain in the affiliate program.

This is not totally surprising after Apple cut the rate for in-app purchases last year. However, this is going to hurt a lot of people in the media ecosystem around Apple.

Eli Hodapp at TouchArcade:

I genuinely have no idea what TouchArcade is going to do. Through thick and thin, and every curveball the industry threw at us, we always had App Store affiliate revenue- Which makes a lot of sense as we drive a ton of purchases for Apple. I don’t know how the takeaway from this move can be seen as anything other than Apple extending a massive middle finger to sites like TouchArcade, AppShopper, and many others who have spent the last decade evangelizing the App Store and iOS gaming.

Of course, some have planned ahead. Federico Viticci on Twitter:

Apple killing the affiliate program for apps feels downright hostile and petty.

I am personally not that affected because we saw this coming years ago and we adapted – but it’s a huge blow to small publications, indie devs, and others who rely on this to earn commissions. Sad.

Shawn Blanc, writing at The Sweet Setup, where I used to serve as Editor:

About a year ago, Apple made a somewhat similar change to the affiliate program but then backtracked on their plan.

However, we took that as the writing on the wall that the affiliate program was not going to be a long-term, reliable source of revenue. And now, a year later, it turned out to be true.

Over the past year we have been focusing heavily on creating our own products to serve you, our readers, directly. And as a result, The Sweet Setup is not dependent on affiliate revenue. (Nor advertising revue either, for that matter.)

And so, thankfully, for us, nothing will be changing.

Perhaps I’m being crankier than I should be, but the tone of Apple’s email really bugs me:

With the launch of the new App Store on both iOS and macOS and their increased methods of app discovery, we will be removing apps from the affiliate program.

I can’t help but feel that Apple is waving off the wide array of sites that help consumers find apps as being unnecessary in light of Apple’s new editorial content within the App Store. I simply don’t believe that to be the case. The App Store is massive, and the crop of websites that have come to make a name for themselves comparing and reviewing apps add value to the ecosystem.

Another angle here to consider is money. Payments made to people linking to apps with affiliate links comes out of Apple’s share of revenue generated by app sales and in-app purchases. How much money it costs them is unknown, but the idea that the reasons behind this move could be financial in nature feels pretty gross. Apple is a for-profit company, and it may have a real bottom-line reason to close this program, but sometimes doing the right thing comes with a cost.