July 7, 2011 / 3:06 PM / in 6 years

Apple's app downloads race ahead, surpass 15 billion

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc customers downloaded more than 15 billion applications in the past three years, the company said on Thursday, releasing figures that suggest the rate of downloads is sharply accelerating.

<p>A woman walks past icons for Apple applications at the company's retail store in San Francisco, California in this April 22, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/Files</p>

The latest figures from Apple show that customers have downloaded around 5 billion apps so far this year, considering the company said in January that it had just passed the 10 billion download mark.

It took roughly 2-1/2 years to reach 10 billion downloads -- but much of the period was spent without the popular iPad tablet, which has driven the demand for apps.

Apple has paid developers more than $2.5 billion to develop for its online store, which currently contains around 425,000 apps for iPads, iPhones and iPod touches, it said.

Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Derek Caney

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