I know Web applications on smartphones aren't great... and the speed is part of that. Screen size and UI choices are a big part too. In my mind, the "native" (and you are right that it deserves the scare quotes when a phone is the topic) phone apps are the way to go, backed by the service. But as a strategy, you get the Web app out first since it is a universal client, then you roll out "native" apps (including desktops if you feel the need) as time and budget and resources permit. It may not be ideal... but it sure beats building one "native" client and hoping you picked the right one. For public use, the market has too much churn in it to really predict what client to build for. I remember when Android was around 1.5%, 2% of the market after a year, then the Droid 1 landed and a year later Android was a "must build for" client. iOS is slowly declining in market share but I do not think it will ever be unimportant. With Nokia rolling out WP7 stuff, there is the chance (not sure how strong, but it is obviously a chance) for WP7 to become a true 3rd player. BlackBerry isn't dead by any means, and they could enjoy a resurgence as well. So right there, we are looking at 2 - 4 OS's for domestic use, and if you add in international, you get Symbian and maybe also MeeGo (not sure about its numbers).
So for folks who need to get their stuff on as many devices as possible (and that's an awful lot of devs), the best and maybe only strategy that fits their time and resource limitations is Web, regardless of what's "better" or "right".
Incidentally, I have had far, far less of a problem with speed since I moved to WP7 from Android. WP7 is a much more responsive OS, even on older/slower hardware than Android. Just about every reviewer out there has remarked on it, so I am sure it's not my imagination. After a year with a more responsive (even to Web stuff) OS, it's easy to forget that not everyone has that experience. Using Web on a freebie Android phone is probably quite painful.
Also, speaking of "native", with Windows 8 clearly going to replace WP7 on the next version of Windows Phone, I am curious if they will bring the C++ compatibility to it that they have in Windows 8. I am also curious if the C++ on Windows 8 runs under the .NET CLR or if it is truly native.
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