Apple Thursday said customers have downloaded more than 15 billion iPhone and iPad apps from its App Store in the three years since the e-mart's debut.
The App Store launched July 10, 2008 , alongside the second-generation iPhone 3G and the second edition of its mobile operating system, now called iOS.
"Thank you to all of our amazing developers who have filled [the App Store] with over 425,000 of the coolest apps and to our over 200 million iOS users for surpassing 15 billion downloads," said Philip Schiller, Apple's head of product marketing, in a statement. The app count includes 100,000 native iPad apps, Schiller claimed.
Apple regularly touts milestones in its App Store, whether downloads or the number of available apps.
And it's great public relations, said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.
"After all, PR is Apple's lifeblood," said Gottheil Thursday.
"But this goes to everybody in the ecosystem," he argued. "The sense you get recently is that, at least in the U.S., Apple is maintaining and even growing market share, and one of its sales points to users and developers and the remaining network operators that don't yet carry the iPhone, is that 'We kill on the App Store.'"
According to Apple's two most recent quarterly earnings statements, the revenue line that includes the App Store and iTunes has posted double-digit year-over-year growth of 23% each quarter.
In the period January-March 2011, Apple declared revenue of $1.6 billion from iTunes and the App Store, up from $1.3 billion the year before.
"We can't know for sure how much the App Store brings in, but we have to presume that the rapid growth is coming out of the App Store," said Gottheil. "Apps are the new content."
Apple's Schiller did say that the company has paid out over $2.5 billion to app developers in the last three years, meaning that with the 70-30 revenue split -- in favor of developers -- Apple's earned about $1.1 billion in that same period.
Rival Google has recently claimed that customers have downloaded 4.5 billion apps from its Android Market. Google has also claimed that the Android store contains more than 200,000 apps.
Both iOS and Android users are more likely to consume apps than people with competing mobile operating systems. In late May, metrics company Nielson said its surveys showed that 79% of iOS device owners and 74% of Android users had downloaded an app in the previous 30 days, significantly higher than the 63% for Windows Phone 7 and the 42% for Research in Motion's BlackBerry OS.
As Apple boasted of the App Store's milestone, however, a federal judge rejected the company's motion for a preliminary injunction that would have blocked Amazon from using "AppStore" in the name of its mobile software download site.
Apple and Amazon have been dueling in court since March , when Apple sued for trademark infringement over Amazon's use of "AppStore" as the name of its Android application download market.
Apple had called Amazon's e-store "inferior" and argued that it "will tarnish Apple's [App Store] mark."
The lawsuit is currently slated to go to trial in October 2012.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com .
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