iTunes App Store continues to thrive with over 500 million downloads and 15,000 apps

The iTunes App Store continues to grow, with well over 500 million downloads and 15,000 applications

Last week, Apple boasted on its website that the iTunes app store has had over 500 million downloads and contains over 15,000 apps. While those numbers by themselves are staggering, even more impressive is the short amount of time it took Apple to reach that milestone.

The last time Apple released data about the iTunes App Store was about a month and a half ago when it published print ads in major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times announcing that there had been over 300 million downloads from the iTunes App Store. It took Apple around 5 months to reach 300 million downloads. It only took Apple 1.5 months to nearly double that figure.

As the smartphone market continues to mature, it will become increasingly difficult to differentiate smartphone models on hardware features alone. Even though the iPhone had a significant head start when it came to the market in 2007, Apple had the foresight to recognize that it was only a matter of time before other companies released products that could compete on the same level. In the past few months alone, we've seen the debut of the G1, the BlackBerry Storm, and the intriguing Palm Pre is set to launch in just a few months. That said, a number of Apple executives have noted that they approach the iPhone as a software platform, and Tim Cook made a point of stressing this fact at Apple's recent earnings conference call.

Every week there is a new story about a developer striking it rich on the iPhone, and with over 500 million downloads and 15,000 apps, it doesn't seem that competing app stores will even be able to make a dent into iTunes' commanding lead. The Android Marketplace has been around for a few months and only has 800 apps available. Meanwhile, the Storm's app store hasn't even launched yet. From a developers point of view, developing for the iPhone is attractive not only because there are millions of iPhone users, but also, and perhaps more importantly, because iPhone users are downloading more applications on average than any other smartphone users out there.

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