Apple Killing the Mac and iOS App Affiliate Programs

Today sent an email out to affiliate program members (myself included) explaining they will no longer be paying affiliate fees for Mac and iOS applications. There are a lot of podcasters and bloggers, myself included, that receive small bits of income through affiliate linking apps. For those of us in that category, it will sting a bit, but not be a business-ending event.

On the other hand, this is terrible news for some of the aggregator sites that do a good job of finding good apps to recommend to their readers, like TouchArcade, and pay their bills nearly entirely based on affiliate income. These sites have served an important role to the community over the years, particularly when the App Stores were particularly abysmal, and I honestly don’t know how any of them can stay open with the loss of affiliate income. Imagine how many great websites, like Wirecutter, would get shut down if Amazon stopped making affiliate payments.

It’s easy to think of Apple as an old friend and forget that they are a for-profit corporation. I think refusing to pay affiliate fees is silly in light of the fact that third parties are driving lots of sales in the Mac and iOS app stores every day. Frankly, one of the reasons I’m moving away from the iBooks platform is becasue I don’t want to get caught up if they decide it isn’t worth the effort in a few years.

One last thought is why they are only cancelling affiliate payments for apps? Music, video, and book affiliate links will presumably still work. Are those next or are there industry pressures keeping Apple from shutting them down.