Narwhal Introduces Subscription Plan Amid Reddit’s App Purge


After Reddit’s controversial decision to increase API fees, many third-party app developers were forced to shut down their services. However, one app, Narwhal, is determined to make a comeback by implementing a subscription-based model. For $3.99 per month, users will enjoy an ad-free and privacy-focused experience on the app.

Key Takeaway

Narwhal, a third-party Reddit app, is implementing a subscription-based model at $3.99 per month to provide users with an ad-free and privacy-focused experience. The app plans to cover its expenses through subscription fees and the voluntary Tip Jar donations. However, the unpredictable nature of Reddit’s API fees poses challenges for Narwhal’s sustainability. Narwhal’s customization options, native video player, and fast media loading have made it a popular choice among users.

A Unique Approach

Narwhal is taking a unique approach to sustain its app. In addition to the subscription fees, the company will introduce a Tip Jar feature where users can voluntarily donate to support the app’s development. While this feature won’t be available at the app’s launch, the developer, Rick Harrison, is considering adding a small monthly fee of around $1 to enable users to access notifications and messages.

The subscription pricing is relatively conservative for now, as Narwhal views it as an experiment. The app’s adoption and usage will determine whether the current pricing can cover the API fees, which Reddit charges on a monthly basis. Due to the unpredictable nature of these fees, Narwhal will not offer lifetime or annual subscription options. Harrison acknowledges that the API costs could potentially reach “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands a month” depending on the number of subscribers.

Furthermore, Harrison plans to offer a 30% discount on the Narwhal website for those who subscribe directly, as there would be no Apple cut involved.

Challenges Ahead

Reddit’s reaction to Narwhal’s attempt to run its own ad-free third-party app business remains uncertain. The company’s decision to increase API fees and shut down other apps reflects its focus on maximizing revenue for now, as Reddit CEO Steve Huffman explained in an AMA session. However, he did acknowledge that the company is not currently profitable.


Narwhal has gained popularity among users for its extensive customization options, allowing them to personalize swipe controls, fonts, colors, themes, and more. Additionally, the app offers a native video player, fast media loading, and sync between devices. Recently, Narwhal released an update that introduced various customizations and a user survey on subscriptions, along with bug fixes. The finalized subscription plan was announced by the developer earlier this week.

Relay, another Reddit client, has also attempted to remain in business despite the API pricing changes. However, their approach involves a multi-tier subscription plan that limits users’ API calls based on their chosen price point. In contrast, Narwhal aims to provide a hassle-free experience, as Harrison believes that users shouldn’t have to worry about API calls and their associated costs, likening it to archaic cell phone plans from 2003.

The latest version of Narwhal, named Narwhal 2, can now be downloaded from the App Store. While the Tip Jar option is already available, the subscription feature is expected to roll out within the next couple of weeks.

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