Apple roars past 2 billion app download mark

Apple Monday said it has passed 2 billion applications downloaded from its App Store, a number that promises to balloon further as the iPhone likely makes its way onto networks beyond AT&T's in the United States.

Apple says there are now more than 85,000 apps available to more than 50 million iPhone and iPod Touch users worldwide. It boasts 125,000-plus developers in its iPhone Developer Program.

New iPhone capabilities keep emerging as well, including last week's addition of Multimedia Messaging Service

"The rate of App Store downloads continues to accelerate with users downloading a staggering 2 billion apps in just over a year, including more than half a billion apps this quarter alone," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, in a statement.

The success of Apple's App Store has inspired mobile device competitors, such as Research in Motion, to introduce app stores of their own.

Slideshow: 10 must-have iPhone apps for gamers

App sales could get another boost if the FCC's plans for formal net neutrality rules wind up prying the iPhone loose from AT&T's grip. In his "network neutrality speech" last week, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski did not talk explicitly about exclusive deals between handset makers and carriers. But what he did say could lay the foundation for unprecedented and, for a group of market-oriented scholars, unneeded FCC regulation of wireless vendor contracts.

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