Android Market races to 10 billion downloads

After launching a little over three years ago, Android Market (s goog) has caught fire with downloads, hitting 10 billion over the weekend. Google’s mobile application store is now up to 1 billion downloads a month as growth is accelerating while the number of Android devices sold soars.

The Android Market didn’t pass the 1 billion download mark until July 2010, almost two years after it launched in October 2008. But growth has been particularly robust this year, going from 3 billion in March to 10 billion now. As we noted earlier, quarterly Android downloads have now eclipsed quarterly downloads in the iOS App Store (s aapl), according to ABI Research. ABI said Android commanded 44 percent of overall mobile app downloads compared to 31 percent for iOS in the second quarter, thanks largely to its larger installed base. Google is celebrating the milestone by offering a bunch of apps for 10 cents for the next 1o days.

Apple’s App Store reached 10 billion downloads in January after launching in July 2008, several months ahead of Android Market. It’s still seeing a ton of downloads including a boost thanks to the launch of the iPhone 4S. But overall, it looks like Android Market will continue to grow at a huge pace and should eventually eclipse the App Store in overall downloads at some point. ABI said there are now 2.4 Android users to every one iOS user, and that ratio is expected to grow to 3-1 by 2016.

Apple, as we’ve noted before, is still the focus for most developers because it’s a better place to monetize apps. Research firm Ovum predicted iOS will still generate more in paid download revenue in 2016, with iOS making $2.86 billion compared to $1.5 billion for Android.

But as more developers increasingly make their money through free-to-use apps that monetize through in-app purchase and advertising, the growth in downloads on Android Market will only entice more development on Android. The platform still needs work to become more profitable for developers, but the download momentum is clearly there.