Apple App Downloads Approach 1 Billion

Apple is close to hitting 1 billion downloads from its App Store and plans on a prize giveaway that includes a MacBook Pro and an iPod Touch. In the free apps category, Facebook and Google Earth have been the most popular downloads. In the paid apps category, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D tops that particular chart.

Apple has placed a counter on its Web site showing the number of downloaded apps, which is approaching the 1 billion mark. In a contest tied to the occasion, the company will randomly select one individual who downloads an app before that 1 billion milestone to receive prizes including a MacBook Pro, an iPod Touch and other products.

At around 2:30 p.m. on April 10, heading into the weekend, the counter was rattling off 1,000 apps sales roughly every 12 seconds.

Independent developers' contributions to Apple's App Store have raised the number of available apps to more than 25,000, and it took eight months since the App Store's July 2008 launch for the total number of downloads to surpass 800 million.

The iPhone is currently in use by an estimated 17 million users in 80 countries.

While some have expressed doubts about the iPhone's utility to the enterprise, a number of apps by, Citrix Systems and other IT companies have introduced an element of business functionality to the device.

Finance apps by Bloomberg, PayPal and the like have also added to the iPhone's mobile-functionality quotient.

According to Apple, the most-downloaded free apps include Facebook for iPhone, which allows users to check their status updates and stay connected to the popular social networking site; Google Earth; and Pandora, which delivers free streaming music.

The most-downloaded paid apps include Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D, in which players can race along 12 3D tracks, and Koi Pond, an app that allows users to taunt Koi fish swimming in a shallow pool of water.

On March 18, Apple premiered iPhone OS 3.0, offering 100 new features, including a few designed to make the device more enterprise-friendly. The updated software development kit features more than 1,000 new APIs.

Editor's Note: This article has been revised with regard to Apple's contest details.