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Windows Phone 7 Marketplace app count bests BlackBerry?

If you don't count themes or e-books, Windows Phone 7 has bypassed RIM's BlackBerry App World catalog in its number of apps.

Windows Phone 7 Marketplace
Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Microsoft announced today during a news event tied to a forthcoming Windows Phone 7 update that its Windows Phone Marketplace holds 18,000 apps.

While that's peanuts compared to Android Market's 200,000 apps and the iPhone App Store's estimated 500,000 titles, it appears that Windows Phone 7 may actually have a similar or larger haul than BlackBerry App World, depending on how you count.

RIM's online market hosts about 25,000 items, which is 7,000 more than the Marketplace. If we split hairs, 7,500 of those titles are visual themes and another 9,000 of them are e-books. Compare this to about 500 e-books (and no themes) for the Windows Phone (e-book number provided by Microsoft) and you've got arguably more traditional applications on the 7-month-old Marketplace.

There are a lot of caveats, however, like whether themes should and do truly count as apps, where e-books fit in, and if it really matters. In total, BlackBerry's App World certainly has the greater number of items at this time, but that matters less when BlackBerry and Microsoft are both fighting it out to stay alive in an Android- and iPhone-dominated world.

While the quality of apps should count as much as the quantity--how many farting and lighter apps does one platform really need?--the fact of the matter is that consumers factor apps into their decisions when purchasing a smartphone. Microsoft's Greg Sullivan, senior product manager of Windows Phone, said as much to CNET during a demo last week, and that confirmation helped fuel Microsoft's future update to integrate apps into Hubs.

Windows Phone Marketplace does take the cake by one measure. It is the fastest-growing app store, according to Netherlands-based analysts Distimo (reported here). Still, the question remains if Microsoft can transform its growth spurt into volume, if it will be able to attract enough corporate and independent developers to make enough of a dent in consumers' attention to start selling its phones en masse.

How important is an app store's show of force to you? Share with us in the comments.