(Fierce) Almost two years to the day after Google first opened the doors of its Android Market application storefront, the digital services giant reports the store now boasts more than 100,000 apps optimized for Android smartphones. A post on the AndroidDev Twitter account confirms the benchmark. As recently as early September, Android Market featured 80,000 applications, up from 70,000 in mid-July–last month, Google vice president of engineering Andy Rubin credited Android’s open-source ethos for fostering developer interest in the platform, stating “Developer-led Android innovation is flourishing.” According to a New York Times article published this weekend, more than 270,000 developers are now building Android apps. Android Market remains some distance behind Apple’s rival App Store, however–last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said there are now more than 300,000 applications for iPhone and iPod touch devices.
The Android Market announcement follows on the heels of a series of recent storefront improvements. This month alone, Google expanded Android Market paid app sales options to developers in 20 new international territories and extended app purchases to 18 additional countries, meaning consumers across 32 nations worldwide may now download premium games, navigation solutions, productivity tools and the like. Consumers still must register for a Google Checkout account in order to download paid Android applications, except in locations where operator billing is available, although Google is expected to introduce new app payment options in the future.
The Android operating system now represents 17.0 percent of the U.S. smartphone market according to data issued last month by digital measurement firm comScore–as recently as April 2010, Android accounted for just 12.0 percent of all American smartphones. Android trails behind Research In Motion’s BlackBerry (39.3 percent) and Apple’s iOS (23.8 percent).