Microsoft is claiming that its Windows Phone Marketplace is growing at the same rate as Apple and Google's mobile app stores.

The Ballmer Brigade used the launch of the new Windows Phone Mango update to announce that it now has 18,000 applications in its store - which is impressive considering there were none last October.

Microsoft also claims that it's looking to beat the BlackBerry offering within the year, and is rivalling its peers for application development.

Gunning for Apple

Achim Berg, Corporate VP of Windows Phone Marketing, told the press: "We're about to overtake RIM [in terms of the number of apps available], and we're already head to head with iOS and Android in terms of growth."

Microsoft says over 100 apps per day are being added to its Windows Phone catalogue, with that number increasing all the time.

However, there was nothing said about handset sales for people to actually download those applications on - we're still waiting to find out how things are going on that front - although figures recently released by Gartner suggest that sales aren't going all that well.