I have been in the market for a PDA replacement, and all the conversations I’ve seen, point to the Web Applications being the solution and replacement to client side development on such things as the iPhone/iPod Touch. This harkens back to the the early days of Web when Netscape was being put forth as the new web operating system. The issue then, and in many ways still is, bandwidth. The thin client on the browser required all code from the application to be loaded before the application could activate and the user become productive. This issue still continues in the mobile internet, currently most users using webapps experience delays in application behavior. And this brings up a new concern.
Mobile Web applications are benefiting wireless carriers (who profit from the addition bandwidth use of their users) more than the consumer. In some cases there are ‘unlimited’ data plans with carriers, but mostly there is a cap on bandwidth usage, with hefty overcharge fees applied.
It only makes sense to promote web applications if you are a carrier, or a lazy programmer. This is part of my reasoning for having a PDA, local offline applications. Particularly in Ireland where WiFi or other networks have been slow to deploy and 3G networks are very expensive. Low bandwidth Client-Server applications are the only really customer centric, consumer friendly application development path.
Web Apps are not the best path to my pocketbook.