Apple flaunts 25B App Store downloads

Awards Chinese woman $10,000 iTunes gift card for downloading the record-setting app

Apple today announced that a Chinese woman had been awarded a $10,000 iTunes gift card for downloading the 25 billionth app from the company's iOS App Store.

The milestone was set when Chunli Fu of Qingdao, China, downloaded "Where's My Water? Free" from the App Store.

The free version of "Where's My Water," a Walt Disney game, was the 25 billionth app downloaded from the App Store.

The game is published by Walt Disney, which had ties to Apple through former CEO Steve Jobs, who was the largest Disney shareholder after he sold Pixar Animation Studios to the entertainment giant in 2006 for a reported $7.4 billion. Jobs also served on Disney's board of directors until his death last October.

Apple last awarded an App Store prize just over a year ago when it announced the download of the 10 billionth app , and gave a $10,000 gift card to a British man.

In July 2011, Apple announced that the App Store had passed the 15 billionth mark.

The company has regularly touted download numbers since the App Store went live in July 2008. Shortly after the store opened, Apple issued a statement boasting that customers had downloaded more than 10 million applications in the first weekend.

The App Store passed the one billionth milestone in April 2009, just nine months after its launch, when a similar contest awarded a 13-year-old Connecticut boy with a $10,000 iTunes gift card, as well as an iPod Touch, a Time Capsule backup device and a MacBook Pro notebook.

That was the last time Apple handed out hardware to a lucky customer.

Brian Marshall, an analyst with of International Strategy & Investment Group (ISI), said that the record -- and earlier milestones -- indicate that Apple moved approximately 86 million apps each day since Dec. 13, 2011.

And the health of the App Store is another data point that bolsters Marshall's opinion that each iOS owner provides a significant value to Apple.

"Apple possesses a recurring revenue stream similar to a cable company -- [each] iOS 'subscriber' purchasing a ~$650 device on an ~18 month replacement cycle -- that we believe supports a higher valuation [for Apple shares]," said Marshall in a note to clients today. "With these assumptions, we calculate implied value per iOS user of ~$1,900."

The Mac App Store, which deals free and for-a-fee Mac software, lags far behind the iOS App Store: In December 2011, Apple said it had distributed 100 million programs through the Mac App Store since its Jan. 6, 2011 launch.

The average price of a Mac App Store program, however, is $15, said Marshall at the time, compared to the average price of an App Store app of just $1.25.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com .

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