January 6, 2010, 12:00 AM

The App Store: 3 billion downloads and counting

Apple, maker of the popular iPhone and iPod Touch mobile devices, has announced customers have now made more than three billion downloads of the more than 100,000 apps in its App Store.

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Apple Inc., maker of the popular iPhone and iPod Touch mobile devices, has announced customers have now made more than three billion downloads of the more than 100,000 apps in its App Store. Many retailers in m-commerce think it means more consumers are embracing use of the Internet on a mobile device, which leads to greater comfort shopping on a mobile phone.

“Three billion applications downloaded in less than 18 months-this is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” says Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “The revolutionary App Store offers iPhone and iPod Touch users an experience unlike anything else available on other mobile devices, and we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon.” Apple is No. 5 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

The rapid adoption of mobile apps is also welcome news for retailers that are selling to consumers through mobile phones.

“The significant growth of mobile app downloads and use is an excellent win for those retailers already active in the mobile space, and will most likely lead to a strong increase in retailers entering the mobile channel in 2010,” says Kevin Ranford, director of web marketing at 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., which operates an m-commerce site, app and text messaging program. Apple is No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

With its more than 100,000 apps, Apple’s App Store continues to dominate the downloadable mobile app space, which includes the newer Android Marketplace and BlackBerry App World. For the most part this is because Apple was ahead of the competition in introducing a next generation smartphone, the iPhone in June 2007, a device that has since proven very popular among buyers of higher-end mobile phones. Apple sold 7 million iPhones in the third quarter of 2009, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Apple does not release sales figures for the iPhone.

Overall, consumer adoption of smartphones continues to increase. In November 2009, according to Forrester Research Inc., 17% of all mobile phones in use were smartphones, up from 11% the previous November and 7% the November before that. The popularity of the iPhone is helping drive sales of smartphones-iPhones and competing devices-and creating the expectation of what a smartphone experience should be, which includes robust use of apps, experts say.

“The iPhone has set the standard for what is possible from a user experience on a mobile device,” says Hung LeHong, research vice president, retail, at Gartner. “And if a retailer’s customers are using iPhones, then it’s worth the retailer’s investment if they want to interact in the best possible way with their customers. If your customers are on the iPhone, then you should be there.”

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