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Apple reaches 50 billionth app download with Google on its tail

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It has been five years since Apple's App Store launched, and on Wednesday, the digital store reached a new milestone: 50 billion app downloads.

The Cupertino tech company celebrated the occasion by rewarding the person who downloaded the 50 billionth app with an App Store gift card worth $10,000, a practice Apple does each time one of its digital stores reaches a major milestone.

“The App Store completely transformed how people use their mobile devices and created a thriving app ecosystem that has paid out over $9 billion to developers," Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, said in a statement. "We’re absolutely floored to cross this milestone in less than five years.”

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The lucky downloader was Brandon Ashmore of Mentor, Ohio, who chose to download the app "Say the Same Thing," a game where users try to guess the same word as a friend who they are playing with. The app was created by Damian Kulash and Andy Ross, members of the band OK GO!, and it came out last week. Kulash and Ross are used to having their songs downloaded but "Say the Same Thing" is the first game app that the band has released.

"It's kind of more exciting than getting big awards from the music industry," Kulash said. "It feels more contemporary. It feels more relevant."

Kulash said their app has so far been downloaded by 500,000 users, and the band considers making the app as rewarding as creating their most popular songs and music videos. He said OK GO! has other game ideas that it may develop into apps.

"It's left foot, right foot," he said. "Put out an app and then put out a record."

But Apple's celebration may be short-lived. The search giant on Wednesday announced that its own digital store, Google Play, was only about 1 billion downloads behind Apple and was close to hitting the 50 billion app downloads mark.

Although Apple launched its App Store first and gained major traction with the iPhone before Google's Android devices began to catch on, Google has been able to catch up quickly by working with multiple partners to create numerous smartphones and tablets.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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