Apple delivers on one billion app downloads

Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users have today downloaded more than one billion applications from the Apple App Store, according to the company. The milestone came just nine months after the store was launched and one day after analyst firm mobileSquared predicted it would based on the average of 5.1 million new apps downloaded per day. The momentum is significant for Apple on its own and is yet another reason neither it nor its carrier partner AT&T feels the rush to get out of their exclusive relationship.

Apple announced the occasion with much promotion attracting widespread media coverage, but didn’t reveal details on the mix of free to paid app downloads or the overall amount of revenue it has brought its developers. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the App Store generated $32.5 billion in annual revenue last year, making it one of the most important growth drivers for the company.

On the company’s earnings conference call this week, COO Tim Cook said the Apple team has worked to include easy-to-find top 50 and 100 app lists for both paid and free options and in various genres, which it is also expanding. “The team has done a fantastic job in making the apps easy to discover and fun to discover,” he said on the call. Still, the store is home to more than 35,000 apps, so discovery has been a pain point for some and the subject of Apple’s marketing campaigns.

It has been a good week for Apple, coming off its best non-holiday quarter revenue and earnings in its history for the second quarter of 2009. Apple sold 3.79 million iPhones in the second quarter, totaling 123% growth compared to last year. AT&T has also benefited from Apple’s success. According to the carrier, its iPhone subscriber base now includes six million. AT&T activated 1.6 million iPhones in Q2, down from 2.4 million the previous quarter, but bringing in users with higher ARPUs and lower churn than average. AT&T was pleased with the results, and it appears Apple is too. Cook said Apple does not intend to change is relationship with AT&T when its exclusive agreement expires.

“We view AT&T as a very good partner,” Cook said on Apple’s earnings call. “We believe they are the best wireless provider in the US and were happy to do business with them. They have a done a very good job with iPhone. They put their full weight and company behind it…We are very happy with the relationship we have, and we do not intend to change it….Verizon is on CDMA, and we chose from the beginning of the iPhone to focus on one phone for the whole world. When you do that, you go down the GSM route. CDMA doesn’t really have a life to it after a point in time.”

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