By Hillel Aron

Staff Reporter

TV stations may be trying to block out the vuvuzela, but the world can't get enough of that ubiquitous buzzing sound.

If you need further proof, take a look at the iPhone application that's been downloaded more than 2 million times: Vuvuzela 2010.

The free application, which simulates the sound of a vuvuzela, was created by Lyan Van Furth, whose company, Moblio, is based in Amsterdam.

Van Furth made the application about nine months ago, after the Confederations Cup, which introduced the world to the distinct and, to some, irritating plastic horn.

Van Furth ordered a vuvuzela over the internet, and went into a professional studio to record the sound.

"We thought, if we do it, we want to do it right," he said.

Sales began to take off before the World Cup had even started.

It is now the No 1 iTunes application in the UK, and the No 3 free application in the US. There are many imitations, but Vuvuzela 2010 is by far the most popular.

But how does it compare to the real thing?

"It's easier to play," he said. "You can just hold it in your hand and tap on the screen. You don't have to spend 90 minutes practising."

It's yet more evidence that the vuvuzela is spreading beyond South Africa and becoming a worldwide phenomenon.

Sapa reported that a UK supermarket chain has sold 40 000 vuvuzelas, and Reuters reported that a French union is ordering them for a planned protest.

In other words, the vuvuzela is the breakout star of this year's World Cup.