Apple hurtles towards 50bn app download milestone

14 May 2013

Tech giant Apple is on the verge of reaching another major milestone – 50bn iPhone and iPad app downloads. It is expected to cross the threshold this evening or early tomorrow.

At the time of writing, Apple had achieved 49.921bn downloads, according to a special odometer on its homepage, built to mark the amount of apps being sold on a continuous basis.

Apple points out the significance of the 50bn milestone by indicating it would take 1,600 years to count to 50bn, that 50bn steps would see a person circumnavigate the Earth 800 times and that 50bn bricks would build 12 different Great Walls of China.

Apple kickstarted the app revolution in 2008 as an update to iTunes, in turn turning the history of software as we knew it on its head.

The move, which came just a year after Apple launched the iPhone, transformed the very act of buying software; prior to this users could only download software to their desktops or install it by disk and software was only loaded to mobile devices via USB cables.

Today, the average Angry Birds or Temple Run fan with an internet connection can download an app to their device of choice in seconds for free or billed to their iTunes account.

The speed of growth in app downloads has been significant. As of January 2011, there were 10bn app downloads. By July 2011, this had risen to 15bn app downloads by 200m iOS users.

By January of this year, Apple confirmed that 40bn apps had been downloaded and confirmed 500m active user accounts.

At that point it said the Apple developer community had so far developed more than 775,000 apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years