Apple Inc., purveyors of the iPhone and iPod touch announced today that more than three billion apps have been downloaded for the iPhone and iPod Touch in less than 18 months.

The announcement comes just in time to try and take the sizzle out of Google’s Nexus One Android phone announcement later today.

An important distinction in the wording is “downloaded” and not “purchased.” A number of good and useful Apps on the App store are free or have free ‘lite’ versions available. Apple still makes a boatload off the Apps that do cost money.  A good number of the downloads likely came in the form of Apps, is the previous survey was to be believed.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs says the three billion number is “like nothing we’ve seen before” and points out that the App Store gives users an experience “unlike anything else available on other mobile devices, and we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon.”

That competition, according to recent research, is most likely Google’s own Android phone: The Nexus One. With Google holding a press conference later today, expect more news on that.  The Android marketplace is likely to grow with dedicated hardware support from Google itself, though it has a good way to go before it’s caught up to Apple’s App Store.

The App Store opened on July 10, 2008 via an update to iTunes. On July 11, the iPhone 3G was launched and came pre-loaded with iPhone OS 2.0 with App Store support; new iPhone OS 2.0 firmware for iPhone and iPod Touch was also made available via iTunes.

As of January 5, 2010, there are over 115,000 third-party applications officially available for the iPhone and iPod Touch on the App Store.

Our personal recommendations for Apps include the always-popular Words with Friends and the extremely useful 360 Live.

 

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