Apple announced on Sept. 28 that its App Store now features 85,000 apps for its iPhone and iPod Touch devices, and that more than 2 billion apps have been downloaded since the service's launch in July 2008.
In a press release, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that users had downloaded "more than half a billion apps this quarter alone." However, Apple did not provide a breakdown of how many of those apps were free and how many had a price tag. The release also mentioned that some 120,000 developers are now part of Apple's iPhone Developer Program, and that the iPod Touch and the iPhone have some 50 million customers worldwide in 77 countries.
The App Store passed the 1-billion-download mark in April 2009. Its success has led other players within the mobile space, including Microsoft and Research In Motion, to attempt their own application stores. In a bid to present a viable alternative to Apple's offerings, those companies have also opened their stores to contributions by independent developers.
Seeking to create an ecosystem of 600 applications before the October launch of Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft opened its Windows Marketplace to developers over the summer. In order to appeal to those developers seeking a higher profit margin than they might obtain with Apple's App Store, where many feel pressure to sell their programs for around 99 cents, Microsoft has been encouraging those who submit programs for Windows Marketplace to charge higher prices.
Microsoft has also claimed that applications available through Marketplace will come with a "money-back guarantee." A Microsoft spokesperson contacted by eWEEK suggested that applications for the store could conceivably be priced anywhere in the $0.99 to $2.99 price range, in addition to any made available for free.
"We would definitely want to promote that you make more money selling applications than selling your application in a dollar store," Loke Uei, senior technical product manager for Microsoft's Mobile Developer Experience Team, told mobile application developers in Redmond, Wash., on Aug. 19. "Ninety-nine cents. Come on, I think your app is worth more than that."
Other companies are likewise attempting to play catch-up in the mobile application space with Apple, although they may have something of an uphill climb. Palm's App Catalogue, for its WebOS mobile operating system, passed the 1 million downloads mark on June 24, while Google's Android Market and Nokia's Ovi Store are still very much in their early stages of growth.
According to Juniper Research, there will be some 20 billion mobile application downloads per year by 2014. "The increasing deployment of app stores targeted at mass market handsets, allied to enhancements in storefront interfaces and an ever-increasing array of titles appealing to wider demographics have been the main factors driving this market," the research firm said in a July 14 statement accompanying their report on the issue.