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Like Facebook, the iPhone is just a toy.
Or at least it would seem that way. A new study from Pinch Media says that only 1% of users who download software from Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iTunes App Store become long-term users, Computerworld reports. Only 20% use new iPhone software the day after downloading it.
Other findings from the study:
- Top100-ranked applications attract 2.3 times more new daily users.
- Users run free applications 6.6 times more often than paid programs.
Anyone else troubled by this? Impressive numbers touted by Apple -- 15,000 App Store applications, 500 million downloads -- suggested that the iPhone was a serious platform for mobile business. Legions of the on-the-go workers would be accessing Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) and salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM ) from anywhere.
Pinch's report tells an entirely different story. In this tale, the iPhone is like, well, every other phone.
That may not be a fair characterization. I have an iPhone and, like most users, I have both free and paid applications loaded on it. I use the free stuff a lot more but, mostly, I use Apple's pre-loaded software -- Mail and Safari, primarily.
For me, they are business essentials. Mail has helped me to meet deadlines from the road. Safari is my anywhere, anytime research tool. I really don't need anything else from the App Store.
As a user, I appreciate that. As an investor? Not so much. The App Store was to be a blunt instrument in the iPhone's fight for market share against Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) BlackBerry line, Nokia's (NYSE: NOK ) N-series, and Palm's (Nasdaq: PALM ) promising Pre. So far, it's winning without the help. I'm happy to see the gains, but you'll pardon me if I'm nervous about the streak continuing.
A platform isn't really a platform till users take full advantage of it. If Pinch's research is to be believed, the iPhone isn't one. Not yet, anyway.
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