Apple Soon to Hit 1 Billion App Store Downloads

If there is any doubt as to the popularity of iPhone Apps, then the fact that Apple is about to mark the one-billionth iPhone App download should put any potential skepticism to rest. At the moment, Apple estimates that over 929-million apps have been downloaded since the App Store first launched less than a year ago, on July 10, 2008. This means that from the beginning of the App Store's launch until now, an average of about 3.39-million apps per day have been downloaded; but as app downloads have been steadily increasing over time, the actual number of apps being downloaded now is at an even far-greater pace than that--which we estimate at over 5.1-million apps per day. To celebrate the occasion, Apple will be giving away some premium goodies to whoever happens to the person to download that one-billionth app.

Those goodies include a 17-inch MacBook Pro, a 32GB iPod Touch, a $10,000 iTunes gift certificate, and an Apple Time Capsule. Altogether, the total value of the prizes is $13,746. (We wonder just how long it would take to blow through a $10,000 iTunes gift card?) There will only be one winner in Apple's "Billion App Countdown Promotion," and that person can come from any of over 20 eligible countries, including the U.S. The promotion's rules stipulate that entrants can enter the contest up to 25 times in a day; however, this is actually a moot point, as the only entry that matters is the one that comes in at the one-billion mark, as determined by Apple.

The mere act of downloading an app (either from iTunes on your computer or directly from your iPhone or iPod touch) automatically enters you into the promotion. You can also enter the promotion without having to download any apps, by filling out the non-purchase method, alternative entry form here.

As what people have been downloading to help get the download number so high so quickly, Apple says the "all-time top paid apps" include Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D ($5.99), Koi Pond ($0.99), Enigmo ($3.99), Bejeweled 2 ($2.99), and iBeer ($.199)--14 of the top 20 all-time paid apps are games. The "all-time top free apps" include Facebook, Google Earth, Pandora Radio, Tap Tap Revenge, and Shazam.

While so many apps have been downloaded in such a short time, does not, however, necessarily mean that all these apps are actively in use. In fact, just this last February, Pinch Media claimed that most apps see a drastic drop-off in use immediately after being downloaded: "Users stop using the average applications pretty quickly. Long-term audiences are generally 1% of total downloads." With this promotion in full swing, it's likely that there will be an increase in downloaded but seldom-used apps--especially free apps--as users try to drive the number quickly up to the one billion mark.

As to when the one-billionth download will happen, is anybody's guess. But based on our own very unscientific calculations, we predict that the one-billionth download from the App store will occur in just less than 14 days from now, on April 24 at 10:11 AM (EDT).