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Thursday, December 03, 2009, 05:10 am PT (08:10 am ET)

Apple predicted to offer 300,000 iPhone apps, tablet in 2010

Research firm IDC believes the iPhone App Store will reach the 300,000 landmark in 2010, and more than 1 billion total mobile devices will access the Internet. The company has also offered its predictions on the Apple tablet.

Just one year ago, the App Store had roughly 10,000 applications. In November, Apple announced that it had reached the 100,000 milestone less than a year and a half after its debut.

"That's an annual growth rate of 900%," IDC said. "As a point of comparison, there are on the order of 10,000 Windows PC applications listed on Microsoft's Windows 7 compatibility Web site. We predict at least 300,000 iPhone applications by the end of 2010, many of the new apps coming from well-known Global 2000 business and consumer brands — and attracting more consumers and businesspeople to these platforms as their most commonly and heavily used clients."

IDC also believes mobile devices connected to the Internet will nearly eclipse that of total worldwide PCs in 2010. There are currently 1.3 billion PCs accessing the Internet, but smartphones are growing at a rate 2.5 times faster than PCs.

"It will be a watershed year for the ascension of mobile devices: For the first time, over 1 billion such devices will access the Internet," IDC Chief Analyst Frank Gens said in a video that accompanied the report. "Smartphones will become strategic platforms for commercial and enterprise developers, with the number of iPhone apps tripling, and Android apps quintupling. And we expect to finally see Apple introduce the 'iPad.'"

Last year, IDC predicted that the Apple tablet would not appear in 2009. But now the firm believes that 2010 will be the year of the tablet, with a 8- to 10-inch touchscreen device released by Apple before year's end that will be more iPod touch than Mac.

The device will be used for watching movies, playing games, surfing the Web, and reading newspapers, magazines and books. Because of the multifunction capabilities of the device, Gens told The New York Times that the still-unseen Apple tablet "could deliver a real kick in Kindle's butt."

The firm also suggested Apple could handle data plans for the device through the iTunes store.

"One big question for 2010 is which way Apple will go with 3G connectivity for the iPad — private labeling a wireless carrier's network as 'AppleNet' or simply merchandising carriers' wireless subscriptions through the iTunes store," the report said.

IDC also expects Apple's rival to the north, Microsoft, to formally introduce its own touchscreen device, code-named "Courier." Extensive pictures and details of the likely still-in-development hardware were leaked in September, though the company has not confirmed their authenticity.