Why did Apple put out a press release today about reaching the milestone of 15 billion downloads? Maybe to distract you from the other news about how it just lost the rights to the term “App Store” in a high-profile lawsuit against top competitor Amazon.

Well, guess what? It worked! Look what our headline reads!

Still, it is an impressive number, and one that puts competing app stores to shame. And Apple had even more new numbers to reveal today, too.

Apple also said that there are now 425,000 apps available in the App Store, including over 100,000 native iPad apps, which have been downloaded by consumers in over 90 countries. It again noted that there are over 200 million iOS devices worldwide and Apple has paid out over $2.5 billion to developers to date.

Some of these numbers represent an increase over those revealed at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. At that time, Apple had reached 400,000 mobile apps, 90,000 of which were iPad-specific and 14 billion downloads.

Compared to Others

To put these numbers in context, Google said at its I/O conference in May that the Android Market had reached 4.5 billion downloads, and Google has seen over 100 million devices activated worldwide. Also at that time, Google was activating 400,000 Android devices daily. By the end of June, Google’s Android chief Andy Rubin reported that daily activations had increased to 500,000 per day.

Google said, too, that there are over 200,000 apps in the Android Market. What it didn’t want to tell you, however, is how many work on Android tablets. It’s an embarrassing number that may be somewhere from 50 to 100, reports The New York Times.

As for Nokia, it’s seeing over 6 million apps and content downloads per day, and more than 300,000 new Nokia accounts created daily. The Ovi store is now home to over 48,000 apps. Nokia also said that Qt developers can target more than 100 million devices now, and will be able to target 150 million more in the future, due to the Symbian smartphones Nokia intends to sell.

RIM is now seeing 3 million app downloads per day, the company announced in March, up from 1 million just under a year ago. Microsoft’s newcomer Window Phone reached its own milestone recently: 25,000 apps, up from 11,500 in March.