From zero to a billion in nine months: iTunes customers have now downloaded one billion applications from its App Store, Apple said Friday in a press release.

How did we live without our Apple (AAPL) iPhone apps 10 months ago?

At first naysayers said, Who needs 'em? Now it's, How many do we need?

A billion sounds about right. Is a trillion out of the question?

Remember when McDonald's used to put the number of hamburgers served on their golden arches signs? "20 billion served." I remember watching the signs change as a kid and calculating when they'd hit 100 billion.
Eventually, they stopped counting and simply said, "billions and billions served."

After a billion served, you're probably wondering what's the number one Apple app sold? It's a Crash Bandicoot game. Number two is Koi Pond, which is a detailed pond with fish swimming around inside. It emits bird-chirping and nature sounds and you can feed the fish by holding your finger steady. Much better than cleaning a dirty fish tank!

Other games among the top ten include Enigmo, Bejewled 2, Moto Chaser, a Fishing game called Flick Fishing, Texas Hold'em and, of course, Tetris, one of the all-time best time wasters.

Lots of folks like a beer with their games. Hence, iBeer is in the top five most sold out of that billion served. The beauty of iBeer is you can indulge all you want and still drive home. No wonder people love these apps.

Number one free app? Facebook. MySpace Mobile finished in the top 20. No Twitter apps in the top 20.

The number two free app is Google Earth, then Pandora Radio, followed by a game called Tap Tap Revenge.

Shazam, which allows you to hold your phone up to figure out the name of what song is playing -- complete with album art and name -- comes in at number five in the free apps. Shazam still amazes people when I show them how it works.

One of my favorites that made the top 20 is BubbleWrap. When you tap it, your iPhone screen fills with, yes, bubble wrap and you start popping with your finger(s). It sounds just like bubble wrap popping and somehow, you don't miss feeling the plastic bubble burst. My game-competitive wife and I had a bubble wrap-off the first few nights after I downloaded this. She was obsessed. Although, I recall winning more than losing.

Touch Hockey is the number eight on free apps downloaded out of the first billion and my personal favorite iPhone game. It's air hockey played with your thumb. Like the popular BrickBreaker game on the Blackberry, it's fun and fast enough to play on a subway or bus ride. I liked it so much I upgraded to the paid $1.99 version, sans advertising.

iPhone apps are not just fun, they're also practical. You can download New York City subway maps, or Google Maps or an app that will allow you to speak into your iPhone to find the nearest restaurant, movie theater, hospital or gas station. Or you can track your eBay bids on the free eBay app or your bank balance on various banking apps.

Heck, you can even track your stocks or follow financial markets and stories with (shameless promotion alert) the Daily Finance app. It's the number one most-downloaded free finance app for the iPhone after being released a week ago.

Apps are great ice-breakers too. Recently, when interviewing Ryan Jacob of Jacob Asset Management, we spoke about his favorite apps after I spotted his iPhone. He likes the new Wall Street Journal app, he said, and hasn't yet tried the DailyFinance app.

He loves the $9.99 MLB AT Bat app, which breaks down a major league baseball game with a box-score that would make USA Today envious. Plus, within minutes of a big play, you can watch the highlight. But, wait, there's more! You can listen to the radio broadcast live of any game from the team of your choice.

What's not to love?

Some don't love the iPhone. A buddy of mine recently posted his frustrations with the iPhone on his Facebook account, seeking advice. "The apps were cool," he wrote after deciding to give up his iPhone during his trial period and "save up" for an iPod Touch, where folks can also use the apps. Also, in my experience, AT&T phone reception on the iPhone can be less than stellar, to put it mildly.

He dearly missed and went back to the blackberry, calling it the "fine precision instrument," that has "e-mail, text and no bull." Apps wold be part of the "bull" on an iPhone.

The Blackberry has its own version of an app store, although I'd bet Apple reaches a trillion apps sold long before Research in Motion (RIMM) hits a billion sold.

While a billion apps downloaded may seem overwhelming to everyone but Steve Jobs, if you do buy an iPhone, there are many cool app options.

While McDonald's may have stopped advertising how many billions have eaten fries with that, you can be sure Apple won't stop telling us how many apps are circulating. They'll be sure to let us know when app sales hit a trillion.

Anthony Massucci is a senior writer and columnist for DailyFinance.

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