It seems Apple is removing iOS and macOS apps from its App Store
affiliate program. On 2nd August, 2018 the company's Affiliate Program
Manager sent the following e-mail to the members of its affiliate
Thank you for participating in the affiliate program for apps. 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
It is also now a news
on the affiliate site.
I would like to quote from The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Part
This has made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded
as a bad move.
Bloggers and independent software developers have been really pissed off
about this. Let me try to make sense of what it is all about.
Small fish feeding on bigger fish
In Internet speak, an affiliate is someone who promotes some other's
wares (and it's your job to find out the motive) and gets a small
commission. For a good many years now, Apple has had a program in place
where an affiliate provides people with links to apps (or music, or
books) on the App Store or iTunes Store, and if the it costs something,
the affiliate will get their cut. At the time of this writing, the
is still this:
Movies, TV, Mac Apps, Mac In-Apps, iBooks, and paid apps earn a 7%
commission rate while iOS In-App purchases and iTunes Music earn a
2.5% commission rate.
So if I was to think that Logic Pro X is one hell of a good DAW for Mac
computers, I could try and persuade you to buy it from the Mac App
Store, and provide you with a link to its entry, with my affiliate
identifier as a parameter:
Get Logic Pro X on the Mac App
If you follow the link and make a purchase on the Mac App Store within
24 hours, I get a 7% commission of the sale price. Go on, you know you
want it, and I want it too.
Logic Pro X is Apple's flagship DAW, so by enticing you to purchase it
I'm a small fish feeding on the giant fish called Apple. But there is an
ecosystem of independent software vendors and bloggers who scratch each
other's backs by making recommendations. The vendors want to sell their
software, and the bloggers want to get their cut. Whether they just want
to push product, or really think some app is great, depends on the
situation. The developers can even be affiliates themselves, thereby
getting a slightly bigger cut of the sale price of their app than they
would normally get from Apple.
However, this ecosystem is not limited to just music apps. It's the
whole App Store for iOS, and the whole Mac App Store. There are
over two million apps on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, and on the
Mac App Store there are... umm, a lot less. I don't know what the
breakdown is between free, paid, and free with in-app purchases, but
there are a lot paid apps, so it's not all free crap with ads. And now
the reward system for recommending those paid apps is going away.
Feels bad man
How much this hurts you depends on what you do and how big you are. Any
software developer with active apps on the App Store can do the math and
find out how much they lose if their additional commission is taken
away, if they even are affiliates. It is much more difficult to
calculate how much sales are lost because there will now be less
incentive for somebody to promote an app.
If you are a blogger or a site administrator, you are now in trouble if
you based your whole business model on affiliate commissions. You would
have to compensate with Google Ads or find yet another revenue source.
If you are a very small fish like me, the loss of affiliate commissions
is negligible, but it could be bigger if I had chosen to make it my
Yes, the new App Store on the iOS is better for app discovery than it
used to be – if you are already inside the garden. However, if you are
outside the garden – you know, on something like the "internet" – you
need a way in. I'm stretching the analogy here, but it is like someone
has found a good way to enter the garden and charges you a small fee for
it. When you put it that way, of course you as the owner of the garden
don't want to pay anyone else for letting someone into your
garden—except that it went on for years and it was beneficial to all
Covering the story,
had this to say:
Apple’s focus on discovery in its App Store may be a move in the right
direction, but it will never make up for the coverage lesser known
developers get from third party, independent websites.
That is very probably true, but does it matter to Apple?
Going out fighting
I really feel for all the indies and bloggers who will be profoundly
affected by this dork move by Apple. It's not like a company whose
market cap just passed one trillion U.S. dollars couldn't afford to
pay back 7% or 2.5% of the purchase price of an app to those who
effectively built a discovery ecosystem for them.
I haven't made much money as an App Store affiliate, mostly because I
have been writing a Finnish-language blog for a small marketplace where
most of the potential target audience are broke Windows PC or Android
users, and those who have a Mac are either seasoned pros who know all
about Logic and iPad music apps anyway, or are newbies who are not hip
to the possibilities of iOS music making, and can just about handle
GarageBand. (Sorry folks, but based on five years experience that's
about the gist of it.) So I have not been able to take advantage of the
economies of scale that an English language, global blog would bring.
However, assuming Apple really sticks to their decision to kill the app
affiliate program, I'm going to take full advantage of it in its last
months, and do something I should have done years ago—namely,
aggressively promote all those iOS (and Mac) music apps available on the
App Store (and Mac App Store) that I actively use and enjoy, and milk
any commissions available out of the affiliate system. I predict it will
not be a lot of money. (I do have a number in mind, but I'm not
Since I'm not expecting much, why am I even doing it? A day of
consulting work would bring in at least twice the money compared to
affiliate commissions. Consider it a service to the community and the
independent developers. As a mobile software developer, I know how much
work goes into making an app easy to use and intuitive. And that is just
the user interface. For music apps, the underlying audio and MIDI
functionality is fiendishly difficult and frankly downright scary. So I
have a lot of respect for the developers who did all the awesome synth
and effect Audio Units and apps.
All in all, if you think of music apps, it's almost ironic: Apple
releases a significant new version the Audio Unit technology, version 3,
and finally makes it possible to actually earn money out of plug-ins
that work inside a compatible host (like GarageBand for iOS or Steinberg
Cubasis), instead of having to produce standalone apps that communicate
using Audiobus or Inter-App Audio. Of course you will need to provide a
host application that the Audio Unit can piggyback on, but that host
could do all sorts of housekeeping for the AU: handling presets,
providing new sounds as in-app purchases, monitoring MIDI, and so on.
And just as this new way of distributing Audio Units has taken hold,
Apple goes and kills the affiliate system. Yes, the developers can still
charge for their AU/app packages, but the incentive for anyone to
actually promote them is going away.
In case you wondered, there is a
you can sign, if you think Apple will reconsider. I don't think they
will, but go ahead if you think it helps.