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 (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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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple and stock positions in Nokia and Oracle at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy remembers rotary phones. Do you?