Apple's iOS App Store has passed the 40 billion downloads milestone, with almost half of those downloads taking place in 2012 alone, the company has announced.

In a press release issued today, Apple revealed that nearly 20 billion of the 40 billion apps downloaded from the iOS App Store by its 500 million active account holders were in 2012, and that December saw a record number of downloads, with more than two billion downloads occurring during the month.

Apple also said that more than 775,000 apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch apps have been created worldwide, and that developers have been paid more than seven billion dollars by Apple since the store launched in 2008.

"It has been an incredible year for the iOS developer community," said Apple's SVP of internet software and services Eddy Cue. "Developers have made over seven billion dollars on the App Store, and we continue to invest in providing them with the best ecosystem so they can create the most innovative apps in the world."

The release highlights the success of husband and wife team Imangi Studios, the developers behind Temple Run, which was downloaded more than 75 million times in 2012, as well as other new development studios who made millions through their iOS apps, and well known names such as EA and Marvel who's iOS offerings expanded last year.

Apple's announcement comes as the Mac App Store celebrates its second birthday, after its 6 January 2011 launch.

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