If you didn't think the mobile web was important before, it may be time to rethink your assumptions. In a ReadWrite article by Matt Asay, it was reported that Google will be shifting much of its focus back to the Web. Asay describes this as "Google [remembering] its roots," and it looks as if the company will not be as heavily focused on native Android Apps (like Apple was focused on iOS apps) and will embrace and promote the Web. Asay notes that even Apple and Microsoft have worked hard to improve web performance on their devices:
So much so, in fact, that with Apple's inclusion of WKWebView (a Web browser engine) in iOS 8, app developers will discover dramatic performance improvements in their mobile Web apps. So long as they're running on Apple, not Android.
Heck, even Microsoft has surpassed Google. As one developer notes, "with WinRT, you could build fully capable apps that used HTML technologies [with] full access to the system [and the ability to] do anything the .NET/C++ versions could do."
At the Chrome Developer Summit (which is posted on YouTube) Google announced their commitment to the Web and have vowed to improve performance on Android. It is making the Web just as much a priority as native apps with the introduction of new developer tools.
Google makes a lot of money from the web - approximately $6.30 per user per year - which contradicts its decision to focus on Android app adoption. Asay quotes EmberJS' Tom Dale who says that an internal struggle in Google may have led the company to choose to battle Apple by using a similar business model - it's own App Store and ecosystem. Dale also speculates that perhaps Android creator Andy Rubin's departure, and subsequently the combining of Google's Android and Chrome teams, may have shifted the focus back to the Web.
Google's focus on the Web is also seen in its recent decision to highlight mobile sites on its results list when using a phone or tablet. Google indicates whether the site uses incompatible technilogies such as flash and whether content is properly formated (i.e. responsive, clickable links, and proper sized text). Website owners can improve their site using a Google mobile test, the Webmasters Mobile Guide, Webmaster Tools, and guides for content management systems like WordPress.
Google's shift of focus doesn't mean there is no future for native Android apps. Native apps still have their place, but for many things the browser works just fine. It's positive to see Google and other companies working towards bettering the mobile Web rather than building platform silos.