Research in Motion's app store, BlackBerry App World has just passed three billion downloads, a welcome break from the flow of bad news issuing from the company recently.

BlackBerry App World launched in April 2009 and now has about 90,000 apps for BlackBerry smartphones and the PlayBook.

The company said it took BlackBerry users just over two years to download the first billion apps. A little more than six months after that App World hit two billion app downloads and growth has remained steady since then.

Apple, by comparison, hit the three billion download mark just under 18 months after launching the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

It offered more than 100,000 apps at the time.

Google said the Android Market hit three billion downloads about 27 months after launch.

Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace in June topped 100,000 apps.

Although RIM was beaten to the three billion download mark by Apple and Google, the activity shows RIM still has an active BlackBerry user base to rely on.

The BlackBerry brand faces tough challenges in the coming months. RIM originally planned to launch BlackBerry 10, the touch-centric, next-generation version of its smartphone platform, in late 2012, but this has been delayed until the first three months of 2013.

In the meantime, a string of new smartphones and tablets are slated for release later this year.

Apple is expected to announce a new iPhone model in the autumn, Google recently announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with potential new devices coming out in the coming months, and Microsoft will be rolling out Windows Phone 8 in the autumn.