Google Play About To Pass 15 Billion App Downloads? Pssht! It Did That Weeks Ago

Way to blow your own horn, Google. Yesterday a newspaper in the UK, the Independent, ran a short item about how Google was about to reach an app milestone — 15 billion apps downloaded. So we reached out to Google to ask about this… and guess what? It already happened.

A Google spokesperson tells us the milestone was passed “a few weeks ago.”

The last number that Google released with more public declaration was 11 billion downloads, when the store was still called the Android Market, which it announced during its Q4 2011 earnings in January. In April, when Google reported its Q1 2012 earnings, it didn’t mention downloads on Google Play, the newly-rebranded store.

Apple reached 15 billion app downloads in July 2011, and the most recent number for Apple is 25 billion downloads in March 2012.

Doing the basic math, that roughly means that Google is seeing about 1 billion downloads of Android apps per month, while Apple is seeing about 1.25 billion app downloads per month.

So there is still a gap in aggregated downloads between the two platforms, despite that fact that Google has nearly caught up with Apple in terms of total number of apps: Currently Google Play has some 500,000 apps, while Apple has 600,000 apps in its app store.

There are other areas of disparity, it seems: Up to the end of January 2012, analyst Horace Dediu notes, Google has paid developers $320 million compared to $4 billion from Apple.

On the other hand, there seems to be other evidence pointing to the fact that Apple’s download rate is slowing down: Fiksu, for example claims that Apple’s app download rate fell by 30 percent in March.

For Google, the drive to have high volumes of app downloads is two-fold: it demonstrates to developers that this is an active and used platform, so that they continue developing for it. And it gives Google a bigger inventory from which it can potentially make more from advertising, which is the company’s real money spinner.

Data revealed in the Oracle v. Google trial over Java patents last week pointed to how Google’s Android effort was money-losing throughout 2010. Documents in the same case also showed that Google projected that it would make a profit on its mobile effort in 2011 and beyond — although we don’t have updated figures from Google that testify to whether that has been the case or not.

But those records also indicated that the vast majority of that revenue will be coming from advertising, with small but growing percentages also coming from app sales. In 2011, Google projected it would make $492.5 million in ads on Android with $14.5 million in app sales. For 2012, Google projected $804.3 million in ad sales with $35.9 million from app revenue.

Figures from those documents also showed that Google expected a loss of $113 million in 2010 from Android and that it expected to have profits of $64 million in 2011; $248 million in 2012; and $548 in 2013.