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Google Play Store Downloads Surpass 25 Billion

Google has nearly caught up with its Apple iTunes rival, plans to put apps on sale to celebrate.

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The Google Play Store, which is Google's equivalent of the Apple iTunes App Store, has reached a significant milestone: 25 billion total downloads. Google announced the achievement Wednesday, and said the total number of apps available for download now stands at 675,000.

This puts the Google Play Store within striking distance of surpassing Apple's application store in terms of downloads and apps.

Apple's App Store hit the 25 billion mark in March, giving it a lead of just six months. There used to be a much more significant gap between the two content stores in terms of total downloads. Additionally, Apple's App Store now has only 25,000 more apps available than the Google Play Store (700,000 compared to 675,000).

Google has already beaten Apple in terms of the total number of devices out there. It announced earlier this month that there are 500 million Android devices being used around the world, which is significantly more than the 400 million iOS devices out there. Sales of Apple devices aren't exactly anemic, but there are literally hundreds of different Android devices available in various forms, shapes, and sizes, while there are just a few iOS devices.

[ And we still want more from our smartphones. Read 6 Features I Want In Future Smartphones. ]

Apple and Google both have monstrous leads over their closest rivals, Microsoft and RIM. The Redmond and Waterloo companies both boast of more than 100,000 apps available in their respective app stores, though RIM's numbers are about to effectively be reset to zero.

RIM is preparing BlackBerry 10 for launch in early 2013. Apps written for BlackBerry 7, the current generation of the BlackBerry platform, won't run on BB10 devices and vice versa. RIM is courting developers aggressively and says that the new app store for BB10 devices will be well populated with applications when the devices go on sale. You can be sure it won't have anything remotely close to 100,000 BB10 apps, let alone 700,000, at launch.

Microsoft's app story for Windows Phone 8 is more solid. It is launching the heavily revised platform next month, but the WP8 devices will mostly be able to run apps built for WP7. WP8 uses the Windows 8 kernel, which is different from the source WP7 kernel.

In the meantime, Google is celebrating its significant achievement with a sale on applications. For the next five days, expect to see heavily discounted and free apps in the Google Play Store.

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