Comparing the 'openness' of the web app angle for the
iPad/iPhoneOS is a bit disingenuous, because you need
to have hosting ('in the cloud' or not) to deliver
such an app.
In this case "closed" App Store gives you even more: you don't have to think about hosting at all. Nor about CC processing, making it easy to find your app using search for all the users, etc.
I'd argue that the very "closeness" of App Store is the reason there are about ~150 000 apps available. We see many crying how closed Apple is, but how many of those whiners would actually go through the process of getting the infrastructure in place? App store takes away the boring part and lets you concentrate on your app. And let's not forget all
the free apps hosted there. How much would it cost to self-host a popular free app?
Less than $99 a year? Including your time spent managing the infrastructure?
"closed Apple" is just another rubberstamp along "overpriced Macs" which means very little. It's just a different model and it does not make it worse, even some don't like it. There are other platforms to choose, go ahead and tinker. But whining is easier, I suppose.
The openness issue is that Apple does not allow installs of apps outside of the app store, period. (yes, I know about ad-hoc distribution, and the enterprise program, those are very limited and still tightly controlled by Apple).
Contrast with Android, which has a market with the same advantages you list (infrastructure, payment processing, search for apps, etc.), but also allows users to install apps from other sources if they so choose, at their own risk.
Note that I'm comparing the two models, not the execution - I think Apple still has superior execution, even if I don't like the model they chose.
I think that point of the 'whining' is less "where and how do I get my apps onto my phone" and more along the lines of "why does Apple get to choose what I'm 'allowed' to install on my phone?" Arguing that people that hate the AppStore are 'whiners' because the AppStore eliminates distribution headaches for developers is sort of missing the point.
We won't, but this is a discussion regarding Apple and their policies regarding the Iphone/Ipad and not whether or not we should buy an Iphone/Ipad tomorrow. You are making the "if you don't like America, you can just get out" argument where you discourage discussion of criticism by reminding everyone that if they are going to criticize, then they should shut-up and not participate in the discussion.