Beginning October 1, 2018, all commissions for apps and in-app content on both iOS and Mac will cease to be paid. Music, movies, books and TV will all still be eligible to earn a commission, however.
The move away from paying out on app purchases leaves a number of app-focused – often gaming – websites in a disappointing position, as the affiliate program worked as a way of keeping a fair few outlets afloat. Without this source of income, survival – in a sector it’s already difficult to survive in – becomes all the more difficult.
Revenues from affiliate links were slashed from seven to two-point-five per cent last year, and it’s clear from the latest decision that Apple sees no benefit in keeping things running as they are. "The launch of the new App Store on both iOS and macOS,” Apple wrote in an email to those signed up to the affiliate program, “[has] increased methods of app discovery.”
Disappointment came swiftly from a number of app-focused sites, with the anguish from TouchArcade editor Eli Hodapp palpable. “I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he wrote, “I really didn’t think it would be Apple that eventually kills TouchArcade.” Marianne Schultz, editor of AppShopper, echoed the sentiment – and reactions have been similar across the board from editorial sites known for using the affiliate program.
On the other side of the argument comes that from some consumers, who have pointed out how essentially futile it is to try and search outside of iTunes for app recommendations. This is down to the fact that much of the landscape is dominated by quick-and-easy list pieces put up with the sole intention of getting folk to click through affiliate links.
Searching through the App Store itself, however, doesn’t always result in the perfect result for the simplest of searches, especially with paid-for results usually topping search results – the loss of the human element in recommendations is sure to be felt. And, frankly, legitimate sites that relied on App Affiliate links are going to have to form an entirely new approach to survive following Apple’s decision.