App stores are a convenient way to find great and presumably safe apps for devices. But even with a search function, looking for that perfect app is like searching for the metaphorical needle in a haystack. Apple has utilized its affiliate program to encourage web sites and writers to bring more users to its App Store with a little monetary incentive. Starting October, however, that will no longer be the case and some such news sites are fearful for their survival.
The App Store’s affiliate program for iOS and Mac apps work like any other such program. News sites and blogs write about certain apps and link to those with a special tag in the URL. Those sites get a certain percentage, previously 7%, of the purchases made using those links. The purpose was to help increase the visibility of apps and the App Store through media coverage.
Apple now says that it doesn’t need that kind of help anymore. It claims that the new iOS and macOS App Stores have made it easier to discover apps and, as such, the affiliate program for them is no longer necessary. Starting October 1 this year, commissions for those apps and in-app content are being removed from the affiliate program, but other content types like music, movies, and books will be left unaffected.
It may sound like a small change but it is already causing some of those affiliate partners no small amount of grief. Touch Arcade, in particular, might be forced to shut down unless it finds some other stable source of revenue. The iOS-centric site has tried other methods in the past but the App Store Affiliate Program has been the one constant and substantial source.
Apple is, of course, definitely within its right to end such a program, though it has also been known to change its decision after receiving some significant backlash. While it is giving partners time to make the necessary changes, those partners can’t be blamed for feeling a bit betrayed, not to mention used, now that Apple has what it claims is a better app discovery system in place.