Apple stunned the wider development community on Monday with an emailed announcement that it has decided to slash commissions for App Store affiliates from 7 percent to 2.5 percent, starting May 1.

The cuts apply to all apps and in-app content, Apple said. However, they do not apply to commissions for movies, music, books and TV, which will remain at 7 percent.

The company will continue to pay commissions on Apple Music memberships as well.

Apple directed affiliates to read the Commissions and Payments page on its Affiliates Resources site for more information on the new policy.

Big Cut, Short Notice

Both the extent of the cuts and the brief notice provided — they go into effect next week — are surprising, and have given rise to speculation that the policy change may be part of a larger shift in Apple’s recent revenue picture.

“It is interesting that they’ve kept the 7 percent intact for higher-value digital content,” said John Jackson, research vice president at IDC.

“The connection is not terribly clear, but presumably Apple wants to drive more revenue from subscriptions and higher-value content in general, so this may be a move to bias affiliate-driven traffic in those directions,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller last year revealed plans to shift…