If you make an app and want people to buy it, you have to link to the App Store so your customers can get it.
If you write reviews of apps, you need to post links to the apps, because your readers will think you’re nuts if you don’t.
Given this, it’s hard to argue that the Affiliate Program, whatever it cost Apple, was the best use of Apple’s money. Apple had all the leverage, and it acted accordingly, as anyone should expect. Continuing the program would be an act of goodwill, maybe, but there are more effective goodwill investments, no?
There are benefits sometimes to spending cash on things that aren’t necessarily profitable. Clean energy initiatives. Matching employee donations. Investing in accessibility. These do wonders for the brand and for the morale of your team. And yes, they actually make the world a better place.
"Keeping review sites and indie devs from going bankrupt" clearly doesn’t quite make the cut. I doubt the average person knows the Affiliate Program exists, and they wouldn’t much care if you told them.
As a friend of some who are going to lose money because of this decision, I feel bummed. No question, it will effect real people in a real way. But let’s face it: any bad PR/backlash is going to be shortlived. And after the few days of rage passes, Apple will have tens of millons—if not more—to invest every year in other things it deems more worthy.
Maybe that’s cold, but business ain’t ever warm and fuzzy.
Tim Cook only gets to say “I don’t care about the bloody ROI” so many times. He’s going to make sure each one counts.