Apple just announced that its App Store has blown past three billion app downloads, which is impressive. But the timing is curious, as are the swirling rumors about the upcoming Apple Tablet. Is Apple trying to out-PR CES and Google?
Apple's press release, coming with words from the man Steve Jobs himself, broke just now. And the fact that three billion downloads have been achieved is frankly astonishing—the two billion figure was only reached at the end of September, and as the guys at AppleInsider note that means over 10 million apps per day have been downloaded over the last 99 days. It demonstrates that the App Store is an accelerating success (since the April-July download rate was something like 7 million per day) and that Apple's mobile products are continuing to sell well. Even Jobs notes that this phenomenon is "like nothing we've ever seen before" before going on to smear his competitors with the line: "we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon."
That little attack raised the hairs on the back of my neck though, especially after reading an opinion piece by MG Siegler over at TechCrunch this morning. Siegler's main argument centers on the recent flurry of news coming from The Wall Street Journal concerning the upcoming—but still entirely vaporware--Apple Tablet. He expresses his curiosity that the WSJ seems to have so much concrete data on what is an incredibly secret-shrouded device, that the data is different to everyone elses, and the recent story even appears to have been edited to adjust how the information might be perceived. Frankly Siegler suspects Apple is gently leaking out data on the tablet, to both stir press and public excitement, and damage-control perceptions about its price.
And the timing of this supposed leak coincides roughly with today's press release. Which is about Apple's successful paradigm-defining iPhone—the same day Google's due to reveal its hotly-tipped Nexus One smartphone iPhone clone/competitor/killer. And it's just a few days before the Consumer Electronics Show 2010 kicks off, where a hoard of iPhone competitors (and tablet maker wannabes) will be showing off their wares. Apple won't be attending CES, as usual.
So is this all evidence of some extremely clever Apple PR shenanigans? I'd say almost certainly yes. The App Store press release is pretty unashamedly aimed at stealing some of the limelight from Google, and it's completely believable that Apple is gently steering tiny leaks about the iTablet in order to either defuse some of the over-hyped excitement about the device, or prepare the PR ground for its arrival. Given that Apple's pulled out of both CES and MacWorld in order to present device launches in its own style with a timing the company itself chooses, attempts to subvert the news coming from competitors still attending them would seem extremely logical. After all, all's fair in love and consumer electronics.