Kevin Conner is an iOS developer at Two Toasters in Durham and an independent game developer. He has been building web apps and native touch apps in the Triangle since 2005.
When you first saw a handheld device with a touch interface, it resembled our familiar desktop displays and mouse-driven GUIs. But when you bought your first such device, you noticed how frustrating it is to use a desktop-sized, mouse-assuming website on a touchscreen phone. A native app can be just as bad, for example if it requires a lot of typing. This is not because touch is inferior technology, but because developers are not building with a good understanding of handheld devices and touch UI.
Often the developer of a mobile website will not even have owned a personal smartphone. Given the trends in device sales, this is bananas. In just the past five years, users have begun to hold our software in their hands. They poke at it and move it like any other real-world object. A smartphone is a more personal computer than they ever had before. What users expect has completely changed, and when an interface is jarring or unresponsive, it's a worse experience than ever.
As creators of software, we must understand how handheld touch devices are qualitatively different in the minds of our users. It's our responsibility to create apps and sites that are appropriate to modern devices and not to carry assumptions from the previous platform.