Apple counts down to 10 billion app downloads

Apple has slapped a fast-moving countdown image on its homepage and main iTunes page in celebration of what will soon be the 10 billionth app downloaded.

Apple crows:

"As of today, nearly 10 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store worldwide. Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 10 billionth app, and you could win a US $10,000 iTunes Gift Card. Just visit the App Store, and download what could be your best app yet."

(You can also enter the contest by uploading your information on the site, not necessarily buying any apps at this time. The number was up to 9.764 billion as of noon EST Friday.).

The Apple App Store hit the 1 billion mark in April of 2009, after opening in July of 2008.

Apple celebrated the 10 billionth song downloaded a little less than a year ago: Johnny Cash's "Guess Things Happen That Way."

ANALYSIS: A billion reasons to read about Apple, Facebook and others

Of course, it's always been easier to buy apps from the Apple App Store than to get the ones you've developed listed on there, though Apple has eased up in recent months.

Apple started off 2011 by opening its Mac App Store, which hit the 1 million download mark in its first 24 hours.

Apple has plenty of company in the app store business, from Google to Microsoft. Microsoft, in fact, is now asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny Apple a trademark on the term "App Store."

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