The iPhone App Store has been open for just five months, since July 11th to be precise. Yet in this time, so an Apple advert running in the New York Times informs us, no less than 300 million applications have been downloaded. Now those are two hugely important numbers, 300 million downloads in five months, not least because the iTunes Store did not come anywhere close to matching them.

More to the point, it took iTunes nearly a year before it even passed then 50 million mark. Sure, it eventually went passed the 300 million songs downloaded but it took years, not months.

However, there is one important difference here and Apple is not being quick to come forward with any clarification on the matter: many of the 10,000 iPhone applications available at the App Store cost nothing. One has to suspect that many, and almost certainly a fairly hefty majority, of those 300 million downloads did not involve money changing hands. Unlike iTunes which not only sells the songs being downloaded, but does not exactly sell them cheap either.

Titles such as Pandora Radio, Facebook and Tap Tap Revenge top the iPhone application popularity charts by numbers of downloads, and games dominate the paid for download charts. So there is no doubting the popularity of the iPhone as a social communications tool (well duh!) and a portable games console, but I for one would be really interested to see how it compares to the iPod in number of music tracks being downloaded. Obviously one would have to handicap the iPod to allow for numbers of devices in circulation, and judge over the same period of time, but I wonder if the iPhone is catching up as a music player?

One thing is for sure, as things stand right now, the iPhone App Store would appear to be winning the download sprint race, leaving iTunes to finish a distant second.