Device operating systems

Apple Breaks 10B Apps Threshold

Less than three years after launching its App Store, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has broken the 10 billion-applications-downloaded barrier.

At this time last year, downloads were at 3 billion, meaning 7 billion were downloaded in 2010 alone, a 233 percent climb. (See Apple App Store Hits 10B Downloads and Apple Touts 3B App Store Downloads .)

Apple first announced its game-changing App Store in July of 2008 with just over 500 iPhone and iPod Touch apps. Today, it houses more than 350,000 apps, 60,000 of which are native to the iPad, and it adds new ones at a rate of 1,000 per day for its 160 million iOS device users. The 10 billionth app downloaded was a free game called Paper Glider, downloaded by a British woman who received a $10,000 iTunes gift certificate for her lucky timing.

Why this matters
Apple's App Store has been the catalyst for the biggest change in mobile apps that the industry has ever seen. Apps went from a handful of operator-offered ringtones and games to hundreds of thousands of games, productivity aids, utility services and everything in between. The balance of power shifted from the wireless operators to the operating system too. It's a balance the operators –- and nearly every handset maker and OS in the industry -– have been working to shake ever since.

The App Store model is resonating with consumers too, making apps one of the most important considerations for new handset purchases. Ted Shelton, CEO of mobile consultancy Open-First, says that apps are more important to most consumers than the operating system or handset design. He believes that the OS is just the gateway to how consumers access apps, and they will disregard certain platforms that don't offer the apps they want.

"In the U.S. market, consumers are becoming sophisticated in understanding they will spend most of the time running third-party apps," Shelton says. "The functionality they purchase after the fact is the functionality that makes it most valuable to them. That shift is just happening now."

For more
Apple's App Store has added a steady stream of apps since it opened its doors, garnering no shortage of attention -- both positive and negative. Check out the following stories for a sampling of Light Reading Mobile's Apple App Store coverage.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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