Apple recently announced 100 million downloads from its new Mac App Store. Largely fueled by the OS X Lion upgrade, the Mac App Store has provided thousands of free and paid apps to Mac users quickly and affordably. But, other app stores are also competing to boast large numbers of downloads.

Microsoft's new Windows 8 will be featuring a similar store, launching in February, for its Metro-style apps (that is, apps for mobile devices and not desktop apps). This will be Microsoft's first attempt in the app store market. With so many Windows devices on the market now, it seems likely that this app store will do well. And, even more so if they offer desktop apps via this online service, much like Mac.

Android has been faring quite well under the looming shadow of Apple, with its app store boasting some 10 billion downloads this year, compared to iOS downloads of over 18 billion. With more Android devices penetrating the market, expectations are high that Android will catch up with Apple on the number of downloads, and the number of devices activated next year.


If you are not taking advantage of your current app store, you may be missing out on quite a bit. Both the Apple and Android app stores feature thousands of free apps, in addition to many thousands more that are quite affordable at 99 cents up to a few dollars. Rarely does a good functional app cost more than $10. Your higher-priced apps are the ones that extremely specialized, and fall into categories like the medical and industrial services fields.

Another benefit of keeping connected with your app store is the updates that are being made available for apps you already own. One of my most-used apps is a nice document reader called GoodReader. This $5 app has grown over the years to be an incredible document reader for PDF and DOC files, adding features constantly. And, if you bought this app this time last year, it was only 99 cents. Definitely a "good" buy, since the upgrades cost nothing.