Google's Play Store Closes In On iTunes

Google Play Store now has nearly as many apps as the Apple iPhone App Store, and new content deals give it access to more digital music and movies.
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Google and its Android-powered juggernaut continue to gain ground on Apple and its iTunes/iOS empire. iTunes has been the leading provider of digital music and movies for years and boasts one of the largest collections of mobile apps at more than 700,000.

Some news regarding the Google Play Store announced Monday barely registered under the excitement stirred by the brand new line up of Nexus devices. Google struck new content distribution deals with Time Warner Music, 20th Century Fox and Time, Inc. These deals give Google and its Play Store much broader access to content, including music, movies, TV shows, books, magazines and more.

Google said it is now working with the four major music labels, in addition to a wide array of independent labels. Google said more music, movies and other content will be added to the Google Play Store every day. It still has a long way to go before it reaches the number of tracks available from iTunes (and Amazon, for that matter), but this week's deals put Google on more even footing with its competitors.

[ Where else is Google gaining ground? Google Gmail Learns New Tricks. ]

Google reached another important milestone this week, too. The Google Play Store has topped 700,000 applications. Google still officially advertises 675,000 on its website, but a Bloomberg report suggested that the number has surpassed the 700,000 mark.

App availability has become a crucial battleground in determining the success of mobile platforms. Apple has long led the app charge with the iPhone App Store, which still garners the most interest from developers. Apple recently revealed that it has paid app developers more than $6 billion since the App Store launched in 2008.

One of the reasons Palm's (now HP's) webOS platform failed is because it failed to gain traction with developers. RIM has done better with BlackBerry App World, but will effectively be resetting its app count to zero when it launches BlackBerry 10 next year.

Microsoft is a distant third when it comes to app supremacy. It revealed this week that the Windows Phone Store has more than 125,000 applications. Even though the bulk of them were written for Windows Phone 7, they will all run on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 platform.

Android activations already outpace iPhone activations by a wide margin. It will be interesting to see if the rate of Android app development surpasses that of iOS with a similar pace.

The battle continues.