Apple's App Store is continuing its rapid success, marking 40 billion downloads by customers since the store was created in July 2008, with some 20 billion downloads of that total coming in 2012 alone.
Those are the latest figures, announced Jan. 7 by Apple, and also include a record-breaking month of December 2012, in which the App Store provided more than 2 billion downloads in a single month.
"It has been an incredible year for the iOS developer community," Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services, said in a statement. "Developers have made over 7 billion dollars on the App Store, and we continue to invest in providing them with the best ecosystem so they can create the most innovative apps in the world."
There are more than 775,000 apps that are available in the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users worldwide. The App Store offers apps to users in 155 countries around the world, with more than 300,000 native iPad apps available in some 23 categories, including newspapers and magazines offered in Newsstand, games, business, news, sports, health and fitness, and travel.
In September 2012, Google's competing Play Store attained an impressive milestone of its own when it reached the 25 billion download mark for content purchased through the store—after only six months of sales.
Recently, Apple's App Store won the top rankings for the best and easiest app store for consumers to use in a new study announced by ABI Research. Google's Android Play Store came in second, while Microsoft's Windows Phone Store ranked third, according to ABI's report, which looked at how app stores implement their offerings to consumers and at their innovation in presentation and approach.
"In terms of implementation, Apple came first, ahead of Google and RIM," the report said. Apple's "superior performance in this dimension is mainly down to its effective approach to monetization, large market share over the app industry, and the ability to achieve a large inventory of titles while maintaining a reasonably strict quality control."
But when it comes to innovation, Microsoft narrowly beat Apple, and Google claimed the third spot, according to the report.
Apple has been leading the mobile app store wars for some time. In November 2012, research firm App Annie reported that Apple's App Store revenues for October totaled four times the revenue brought in by Google's Android Play Store for the same period.
At the same time, Google's Play Store was making great progress, according to App Annie, with a 311 percent growth rate since January, setting the stage for interesting competition between the two vendors.