By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 14, 2013

FORTUNE –Apple (AAPL) loves those big numbers with a lot of zeros, and for the past week the company has been promoting — with prizes, cool facts and a countdown odometer — another fast-approaching milestone: The 50 billionth app download.

Hard to believe it’s been only 15 months since the last one.

  • 1 billion: April 2009
  • 10 billion: January 2011
  • 25 billion: February 2012
  • 50 billion: May 2013

As of 1 p.m. EST Tuesday, apps were being downloaded at the rate of 813 per second. At that speed, the App Store would hit 50 billion by 12:39 p.m. Wednesday.

But we expect things to accelerate as the goal approaches.

The customer who downloads the 50 billionth app wins a $10,000 iTunes gift card. See Contest rules.

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