Tech wrap: Apple hits new app download milestone

Apple customers sure like their apps. More than 15 billion applications have been downloaded from the App Store by iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users since its launch in July 2008, according to new figures from the company.

To put that number in context, remember it was just this past January when Apple announced its 10 billionth app download. That means customers have downloaded around 5 billion apps this year alone, compared to the 2-1/2 years it took to reach the 10 billion mark.  Apple can thank its wildly popular iPad for the surge in demand. Of the more than 425,000 apps now available from the App Store, 100, 000 are designed specifically for the tablet computer.

Meanwhile, Apple’s attempt to stop online retailer from using the “App Store” name has failed. Apple filed a trademark lawsuit saying Amazon improperly used the name to solicit developers in the U.S. Amazon responded by saying the term is generic. The U.S. judge who denied Apple’s request argued that while the term wasn’t purely generic, the company failed to prove “a likelihood of confusion” with Amazon’s service.

Amazon finally lived up to its promise that New York Times Kindle subscribers would have free access to, nearly three months after originally announcing the promotion. Subscribers using the Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader aren’t so lucky yet, though. As notes, the company’s website still tells readers it can expect access “soon” and “in the coming weeks”.

YouTube gave users a peep at a new design for its website on Thursday. TechCrunch praised the video portal’s revamp, codenamed “Cosmic Panda”, calling it slick and dramatic. Test it out for yourself.

Apple’s list of top apps offers insight into mobile web

Among the year-end lists popping up around the web, one of the most closely watched is Apple’s annual Rewind lists. It’s almost like an awards ceremony for the things we carry around on our mobile devices, and it’s an especially informative proxy for trends that emerged in the burgeoning market for mobile apps.

Unlike previous years, Apple didn’t break out the top-selling games and non-gaming apps into different categories, making comparisons a little tricky. Even so, there are a couple of interesting things to note. For example, the top-selling iPhone games of 2009 were largely from big gaming companies like EA and Gameloft. Four of the top five were from Electronic Arts alone, including the Sims and Madden NFL.

This year, the most popular free apps on the iPhone games were developed inside small gaming companies: Angry Birds was the clear winner: It was the only app that appeared on the iTunes Rewind free and paid lists. The game was developed by Finland-based Rovio, and its distributor Chillingo was bought by Electronic Arts in October, so EA sort of bought its way onto the Rewind list this year.

GlobalMedia-Gaming giants differ on mobile, social games

kotickMuch of the buzz in gaming these days revolves around two small but fast-growing areas: social games and mobile ones played on smartphones. But two titans of the video game industry have decidedly different takes on those markets.

There are already tens of thousands of game apps available for the iPhone and competing Android smartphones, and tens of millions of people playing free games on Facebook.

Still, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick (pictured) sounded less than enthusiastic about those markets when he spoke to the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York on Tuesday. And that represented a stark contrast from what Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said just a day earlier

Apple hasn’t rejected Google Voice iPhone app after all

Apple, Google and AT&T all filed their responsesFriday to the FCC’s requestfor more information in the Google Voice app saga. The story line thus far has been trying to determine the reasons behind Apple’s decision to reject the iPhone app.  Some blamed AT&T for the thumbs down, believing that the iPhone’s exclusive U.S. carrier feared the app would provide competition for voice services on the smartphone.

But Apple said AT&T played no role in the rejection. In fact, the iPhone maker said the Google Voice app hasn’t even been rejected.

“Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it,” Apple said in its response. “The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail.”

Google Voice app rejected for iPhone

Apple has rejected Google’s application to place its  nifty Google Voice phone call and voice mail app on the iPhone, the latest twist in the closely-watched relationship between the Silicon Valley giants.

In a statement, Google said it submitted its App Store application six weeks ago, but that Apple failed to approve it. Apple declined to comment.

In addition, GV Mobile — a third-party Google Voice iPhone app — has been removed from the App Store, accordingto developer Sean Kovacs. He said Apple informed him that his app duplicates iPhone features.

Independent app store hits its own milestone

While you may not have heard of GetJar — especially if you’re in the U.S. — the London-based outfit announced its own milestone Wednesday, as it passed the half-billion app download mark. Yes, GetJar is an app store, albeit one a bit less famous than Apple’s, which yesterday announced 1.5 billion app downloads in its first year of operation.

GetJar has been around since 2004. It features close to 50,000 applications — such as Google Maps and the Opera browser — and works on all major platforms. The company is backed by Accel Partners and says it’s profitable. It has around two dozen employees.

Chris Drury, VP of president product management for GetJar, said all the hype that has accompanied Apple’s App Store has benefited his company. “You see an ad for the Apple App Store on TV, if you’re like 98% of people you don’t have an iPhone, and GetJar is the only place you can go to get apps for everyone.”

Updated-Apple boasts 1.5 billion App downloads

(Updated to reflect that Apple was referring to application downloads, not application sales.  Many iPhone apps are free.)

Apple Inc impressed the tech world with the rapid take off of its applications store, announcing on April 24th that it had sold 1 billion apps downloads in just 9 months to users of its iPhone and its iPod Touch.

That was just for starters. Now it says it has sold seen another half a billion apps downloaded in around a third of that time, showing that its growth is speeding up despite the fact that its rivals have all opened their own apps stores.

App developers appear to be taking notice too as Apple says it now has 65,000 apps available in its store ready for download to the 40 million iPod Touch and iPhone devices it has sold.

Live blogging the Apple WWDC

Reuters is sending live updates via Twitter from the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference, scheduled to start at 10 am Pacific Time (1 pm Eastern). Read the updates below or follow us on Twitter.

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