Break Out the Party Hats, Apple’s About to Celebrate

App sales are in full swing, and don’t seem to be showing any sign of slowing down. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced on Thursday that its app store is nearing the 50 billion mark, and to commemorate the special milestone, the company will be giving away a $10,000 app-store gift card to the lucky one who downloads the 50-billionth app.

If you don’t happen to be the 50-billionth person, the following 50 people will get a $500 gift card, courtesy of the company. Not wanting to leave anyone out, you can also enter yourself to win on the company’s website — no app purchase required (also very handy for Android users).

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While 50 billion is a substantial number by any means, the really significant part is the rate at which apps are being downloaded. Just last October, the Apple app store saw passage of the 35 billion mark, and has sold nearly 15 billion apps in the six months since. The ticker was at 25 billion in February of 2012, indicating that app sales have roughly doubled over the past year. Greater saturation of the iPhone and iPad no doubt play a strong role in these figures, as the devices continue to sell strongly, even in Apple’s ‘slower’ quarters.

In dollars, Gartner Research estimated back in March that the global app market, from both Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple, will reach the $25 billion marker at the end of this year, a 62 percent year-over-year increase. Both the Google app store and Apple’s app market offer over 700,000 apps each, and the numbers continue to grow. This past January, Apple had paid out $7 billion to app developers; as of Thursday, that figure had swelled to $9 billion.

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Apps have dramatically shifted the way technology operates, and the way the people interact with their devices. While the app industry is really just about five years old, the rapid rate at which apps made themselves apart of our daily lives is certainly remarkable in itself.

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