The mobile space would appear to back him up. Compare iPhone and Android apps. The former are compiled to native code, the latter interpreted and JIT'd. Android apps can be noticeably sluggish compared to iPhone apps, and yet you don't hear people complaining much. The benefits in terms of greater architecture independence appear to be worth the trade-off.
All people really want is fast graphics. If it takes an hour to calculate 100 digits of pi most non-technical people wouldn't think twice about it. Speed of hidden operations is all relative to them. People working on the latest AMD Bulldozer CPUs don't consider them sluggish by comparing them to imaginary CPUs two years from now. If it's not immediately obvious that something can or should be faster, then it doesn't matter to the general public as long as it's "fast enough".