Apple App Store Hits 100,000 Apps, but Droid Is Coming

Apple's App Store now contains some 100,000 apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Although Apple declined to publicly estimate how many apps had been downloaded, eWEEK's math puts the number at 2.250 billion. The iPhone and the App Store could receive a challenge in a few days from the Motorola Droid smartphone, which runs on Google Android and could encourage developers to create an alternative mobile-application ecosystem.

Apple announced that its popular App Store now includes 100,000 apps for download. The mobile-applications storefront features apps in 20 categories, and is accessible to iPhone and iPod Touch users in 77 countries.

The milestone comes just over a month after Apple announced 85,000 apps loaded onto the App Store. The size of Apple's ecosystem represents a challenge for Microsoft, Palm and Research In Motion as they attempt to launch mobile-application stores for their own devices.

"The iPhone SDK created the first great platform for mobile applications," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, claimed in a Nov. 4 press release.

In addition to announcing 85,000 apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, Apple's Sept. 28 press release claimed that more than 2 billion apps had been downloaded since the service originally launched in July 2008. Apple's Nov. 4 announcement declined to mention a specific figure beyond "App Store users have downloaded well over two billion apps."

However, if one takes Apple CEO Steve Jobs at his word-as quoted in the Sept. 28 release-that users had downloaded "more than a half a billion apps this quarter alone," then one can extrapolate that iPhone and iPod Touch users are downloading apps at a rate of roughly 250 million apps every five weeks. If that rough math holds true, then the App Store currently stands at 2.250 billion apps downloaded.

Apple has traditionally declined, though, to break down how many of those downloaded apps cost money and how many are free. Apple's iPhone Developer Program currently boasts some 120,000 developers under its umbrella.

The App Store passed the 1 billion download mark in April 2009. A recent report by Strategy Analytics suggested that Apple claimed 17 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter, closing in on RIM with 19.5 percent.

Given the relative newness of their own mobile application stores, other competitors in the smartphone OS space have not had the time to match Apple application-for-application. On Oct. 6, Microsoft announced the release of Windows Mobile 6.5, paired to a Windows Marketplace with 246 applications, around a third of what Redmond had been hoping to have in place before the release.

But Apple could find a new challenger in the Motorola Droid smartphone, due for release by Verizon Wireless on Nov. 6. Features such as a 5-megapixel camera and services such as the Google Maps Navigation aside, the Google Android platform could be a suitable one for developers to create new applications in mass numbers.

Despite the hype leading up to Droid's launch, though, early reviews have suggested various reasons why the new smartphone won't be an iPhone killer. Users declining to flock to the device could limit the number of applications that developers are willing to write for it-leaving Apple's App Store the dominant player in the arena.