Apple has begun its ritual countdown to the next big App Store milestone with a special section in iTunes and a list of prizes, reports Macstories. The biggest of those is a $10,000 gift card which will be awarded to the customer who downloads the 50 billionth app, with a trailing set of 50 $500 gift cards to the next few folks.

The main store page displays a rolling counter of the apps downloaded, which is currently at 49,206, 600,00 as of publishing. The site, which you can view here in iTunes, is also displaying a list of all-time free and paid apps. They’re topped by Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Facebook and Pandora respectively.

Screen Shot 2013 05 02 at 1.22.24 PM 730x260 Apple begins countdown to 50 billion App Store downloads with a $10k gift card and best seller list

 

Apple last reported that it had hit 40B downloads in January of this year. Apple held a similar countdown in early 2012, when it hit 25B downloads. We managed to predict the download milestone almost exactly and projected a rate of 15B downloads a year for 2012, which was actually eclipsed by the nearly 20B downloads last year alone. At that point, people were downloading apps at a rate of 48.6M a day.