Apple has announced that it intends to end the app store affiliate program that’s been a staple of its popular iTunes service for years, and is expected to shutter the program by October 1st, 2018. In a newsletter issued to the public, the international tech giant noted that affiliated bloggers, YouTubers, and internet celebrities would no longer be able to link customers to an app on the iTunes store in exchange for a small commission.

An unexpected change from Apple

Apple’s unexpected decision to suddenly shutter its app store affiliate program came suddenly in a newsletter made publicly available by the company. According to the letter, Apple will be removing Mac apps and iOS apps from its affiliate program that thus far has allowed private individuals to earn a small commission by linking others to a particular app on the iTunes app store.

Traditionally, Apple’s affiliate partners were permitted to glean a commission of up to seven percent of any app purchase, though last year the commission was reduced to a mere 2.5 percent. Apple’s earlier slashing of the commission figure was met with dismay by third-party app reviewers like TouchArcade, which publicly protested the changes to the program.

With the recent announcement, individuals and celebrities who have drawn income from referencing others to app store downloads will no longer be able to make any money from their recommendations.

Apple still intends to allow other content like music, books, movies, and television shows to remain in the program.

The move was likely spurred by the forthcoming launch of the new App Store on both iOS and MacOS, which Apple thinks will be better at directing consumers towards new apps. Thus, the company doesn’t feel it needs third-party reviewers to recommend certain apps and sees no purpose in paying them commissions for referrals anymore.

Popular program

The affiliate program was popular with many small-time internet entertainers and digital publishing outlets that could direct large amounts of traffic towards app store purchases, which resulted in small kickbacks to the individual or outlet for their recommendation. Though the official web portal for the program is still alive at press time, the program is expected to be shuttered in an update set to be issued on October 1st.

Apple’s algorithms, which are primarily responsible for app recommendations that consumers see when browsing the App Store, has evidently advanced to the point where human referrals using cookies consent are simply no longer needed. The international tech behemoth continues to draw in huge sums of money from its App Store; according to research from Sensor Tower, Apple reaped in more than $16 billion in mobile gaming revenue in the first half of 2018 alone.

Apple likely wouldn’t shutter the affiliate program unless it was no longer contributing enough referrals to be worth the commissions it was paying to third-party recommenders. Despite the company’s increased App Store revenues lately, the decision to shutter the affiliate program will almost certainly end third-party websites and companies that review and recommend apps to consumers.

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