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Nice timing, Steve Jobs.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) issued a press release this morning, announcing that App Store downloads have now topped the 3 billion mark.
It's certainly an impressive feat, given that Apple launched the applications marketplace only two summers ago. It took just six months to double up on the 1.5 billion downloads that the company chalked up during the App Store's rookie year.
The timing of the press release is certainly no accident. This was supposed to be Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) day. The world's leading search engine has been prepping for today's Nexus One unveiling -- but in steps Apple to hog some of the attention.
Apple has a funny -- or tactically brilliant -- way of crashing the party. When Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) introduced its bar-raising Pre smartphone, Apple came back a few weeks later with a refreshed 3GS iPhone, complete with video-recording capability. Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Zune hasn't really made a dent in Apple's portable-media-player dominance, but it always seems to be outdone by iPod price cuts or spec upgrades.
This doesn't mean that Apple isn't entitled to App Store bragging rights. It has truly been a game-changer in the smartphone revolution. It has armed indie developers with the tools to get noticed, and it has breathed new life into app-savvy companies including Vonage (NYSE: VG ) and Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) that have approached smartphone apps as ways to generate incremental revenue.
However, there is no way that the timing of Apple's press release is a coincidence. Jobs has plenty of practice in pulling the rug from under his competitors -- and he just did it again.