Apple blasts by three billion app downloads

Rival Google is also seeing rapid growth for Android applications

Apple says more than 3 billion apps have been downloaded from its App Store by iPhone and iPod touch users.

"Three billion applications downloaded in less than 18 months — this is like nothing we've ever seen before," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, in a statement. "The revolutionary App Store offers iPhone and iPod touch users an experience unlike anything else available on other mobile devices, and we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon."

Apple said in April that it had sold its billionth app. At the end of September, Apple announced that it had roared past the two billion app download mark, with customers having 85,00-plus apps to choose from at the time.  Apple surpassed the 100,000 mark for available apps in November.

Apple has been making moves in recent months to improve the App Store for both developers and customers. For example, it is trying to communicate better with developers via a new RSS feed. Apple has been chastised in the past for allowing some unsavory apps onto the store, but has been boosting efforts to eliminate such programs from seeing the light of day.

And there are still plenty of apps for Apple devices that you won't find in the App Store because they exploit certain iPhone features such as global user interface enhancements.

Competitors' app stores still have a long way to go to catch up to Apple, but have been booming as well. The Google Android Market, for instance, doubled in size over the second half of 2009 and hit the 20,000 market for available apps in December, according to one market watcher

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