When they killed the TouchPad, Hewlett Packard proved Apple’s iPad to be just a toy. Now a new study suggests that the iPhone is very much the same thing. In the world of SmartPhones, Android devices are tools, while iPhones are toys.

I’m actually a little bit embarrassed that this hadn’t occurred to me sooner. While I was writing yesterday’s piece on the TouchPad’s demise and what it means I asked a friend for some input and it was only then that the whole tool versus toy thing started to come together for me. I realized I feel the same way about iPod Classics versus the iPod Touch, Windows and Linux PCs versus Macintosh computers, and my Droid versus my Flip video camera. For me, it’s about the tool, its marginal utility, and its price relative to the toy, which costs more, looks cool, and most of the time “isn’t as good” for one reason or another.

That’s me. I’m a pragmatist. It explains why I think the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch are too cumbersome all the while admiring how beautiful they are, it explains why I can look at Macintosh computers, see what’s great about them and run the other way, and it explains why, as much as I love my Flip I’ve mostly stopped using it.

Tools do the job better than toys.

That new study showing the tremendous growth rate of Android at iPhone’s expense shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all, Android overtook iPhone in traffic over a year ago. But if Android SmartPhones are the tools and iPhones the toys of this conversation and despite iPhone’s incredible buzz and large head-start the numbers are looking so far skewed toward Android at this point I have to see this as a sign that eventually pragmatism beats fantasy.

Business change sometimes takes time to play out. And it’s often initiated by a WOW, GEE WHIZ event. Thank you, Apple, for that iPhone/iPhone Touch/IPad toy. The tool makers will take it from here.

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