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Apple counting down to 25 billion app downloads

Apple is once again counting towards a benchmark in the number of apps people have downloaded. This time around that number is 25 billion, and the winner gets a big iTunes gift card.

Apple's count up timer.
Apple's count up timer.

Apple's begun a countdown--or count up in this case--to its 25th billion app download.

Earlier today the company launched a timer that sits on its front page, counting to the metric. The person who downloads the 25th billion app gets a $10,000 iTunes Store gift card.

Last January Apple ran a similar promotion for the 10 billionth app sold, awarding an identical $10,000 gift card. That was a follow-up to the company's 2009 award to the person who downloaded the one billionth app. That first time was a bit more generous, with 13-year-old Connor Mulcahey nabbing a $10,000 iTunes gift card along with an iPod Touch, MacBook Pro and one of Apple's Time Capsule devices.

As with previous editions of the contest, Apple's set it up so that people can enter without actually making any purchases or downloads from the App Store by filling out a form on this page. In years past, Apple offered similar promotions for purchased songs.

The acceleration in App Store downloads has been swift. The store hit 1 billion downloads in its first nine months, reaching 5 billion downloads in June 2010. By January 2011, the company tallied 10 billion downloads, a number that topped 18 billion in October.

During the Apple's first quarter earnings call last month, the company said it's paid out more than $4 billion to developers, who get a 70 percent share of each purchase, with Apple taking the other 30.

Apple's other App Store, the one for the Mac, crossed the 100 million download threshold in December after just shy of a year in business. When releasing that number the company mentioned the other App Store was currently bringing in around 1 billion downloads a month.