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Apple ends App Store Affiliate program, citing improved discovery

iOS-focused sites to lose app revenue after September, other content types untouched

Apple has terminated its App Store Affiliate Program, ending commissions earned by websites that linked to iOS and Mac apps and in-app content. Other content types, including music, movies, books, and TV will remain unaffected by the change.

The change was announced in a newsletter sent to members of the Affiliate Program, in which Apple stated that the conclusion of the program was the result of "the new App Store on both iOS and macOS and their increased methods of app discovery."

The Affiliate Program was used most notably by iOS app and game review sites, such as TouchArcade, AppShopper, and others. In a post on TouchArcade, editor-in-chief Eli Hodapp discussed the particulars of Touch Arcade's situation, a site that has covered iOS games since 2008. The Affiliate Program was one of the site's most consistent sources of revenue even as other sources dried up, Hodapp says, and the site was able to sustain itself even after commission rates were cut just over a year ago by reducing event attendance and freelancer numbers.

With the removal of the program altogether, Hodapp is uncertain of the future of the site.

"It's hard to read this in any other way than 'We went from seeing a microscopic amount of value in third party editorial to, we now see no value,'" Hodapp says. "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--Particularly on the same day they announced record breaking earnings of $53.3 billion and a net quarterly profit of $11.5 billion."

The Affiliate Program will officially end on October 1.

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