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.

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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.