Less than three years after its launch, the Apple App Store reached its goal of 10 billion downloads this morning.
To promote the milestone, Apple had promised to give away a $10,000 App Store gift card to whomever bought the 10 billionth download. Apple said the winner of the gift card was Gail Davis of Orpington, England.
The store launched in July 2008 with just 500 apps and now touts the availability of more than 350,000 free and paid apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Growth of the store's popularity has been swift; in its first nine months, the store hit 1 billion downloads and followed that up with 5 billion downloads in June 2010.
The App Store has been such a resounding success for mobile computing that Apple's competitors have been forced to launch similar ventures. Google, Microsoft, Research In Motion, Nokia, and Samsung all offer apps through their own app storefronts.
But the venture has not been without controversy. Early on, Apple's app approval process often frustrated developers, who were sometimes left in the dark about the reason an app was rejected. But Apple recently announced plans to publish its App Store Review Guidelines and to allow developers to create applications with just about any tool they want.
Updated at 1:05 p.m. with identity of gift card winner.