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Apple slashes affiliate commission rate on apps from 7 to 2.5%

Apple on Monday alerted members of its link affiliate program to a sharp reduction in their take from apps and in-app purchases, down from 7 percent to just 2.5.

The change will take effect May 1 around the world, Apple explained. The rate will stay at 7 percent for all other Apple media, including music, movies, books, and TV shows.

"We will also continue to pay affiliate commissions on Apple Music memberships so there are many ways to earn commissions with the program," the company noted.

It's not clear why Apple made the change other than to retain more profit from App Store sales. Under the program, websites — including AppleInsider — can claim a small percentage of the proceeds from linked apps without affecting how much developers earn.

The lower rate could impact the bottom line of small- to mid-sized websites, particularly those focused on app news and reviews. While in most cases a site will only earn a few cents per download even with the 7 percent rate, that can still translate into hundreds of dollars with enough readers.

In June 2016 Apple announced a switch to a new revenue model, through which it would take only 15 percent from App Store subscriptions instead of its normal 30 in the case of customers subscribed for over a year. It could be that the company is looking to shore up lost revenue.

Apple may also be less worried about attracting outside publicity, given the overall success of the iPhone and the App Store, and an improved review system introduced alongside iOS 10.3.