Apple's App store nears 1b downloads

Apple iPhone and iPod touch users have downloaded nearly a billion apps from the company's app store, Apple said, with the company launching a countdown  to the landmark event.

The store, which was launched in July last year, attracted 10 million downloads in its first week of operation.

The success of the store has led to Nokia, Microsoft, Blackberry, Android, and Palm all announcing competing app stores of their own.

As of this morning, around 948 million apps had been downloaded. Bloggers estimate  that at the rate the counter is moving, the 1 billionth app will be downloaded on early April 20.

Apple is offering up a single $13,000 prize at the time of the billionth download, including $10,000 worth of iTunes credit and a MacBook Pro.

In more Apple news, CEO Steve Jobs, who took medical leave in January over health complications from pancreatic cancer, said  he'd be back to work by June. Jobs said even during his leave, he continues to be involved in key aspects of running the company.