There is great debate still with the delays and times the iPhone takes to backup. I myself had the excruciating waits of 2-3 hours for a simple backup as well as apps crashing.
I am not going to speculate exactly why the delays are, however after extensive research I concluded iPhone 2.0.2 has cleared the backup delays. Since I am not sure if the backup delays are also remedied by the version of iTunes I am using, I would like to emphasize I am using 7.7.0 (shown as 7.7 in the about iTunes) instead of 7.7.1 which is the currently available version.
iTunes 7.7.1, again after extensive research, lead me to conclude it also has problems with the digital rights management applied to the applications. If you download Apps from iPhone, this app may have trouble synching back to your computer. I quote "may" because I have had mixed results. Similarly, your apps may simply start crashing from one day to another without warning. In my case, I was comfortably using my apps and stopped to show the lighter to my brother. The lighter app froze (didn't crash; just froze after a few frames of the flame video) requiring me to cold boot the iPhone. Upon rebooting, none of my apps would launch -- they would immediately quit.
By downgrading to iTunes 7.7.0 as some have indicated, I have resolved all these app problems. I believe Apple is not as quick to update iTunes, even though they are aware of via a blanket email from Steve Jobs on the matter. I feel this is mainly due to the fact they may be hard at work with 7.8 for a September announcement of a new iTunes subscription model (rumors have it at $100/year for full iTunes music access).
Anyhow, just to dispel any concerns I decided to perform a sync which should cause an automatic backup to occur as the conclusion of this post and these are the results. My iPhone is pretty loaded too as you can see from this picture:
Backup started first, so will list times for this:
01:21:30am - started
01:22:30am - 33% done
01:23:30am - 50% done
01:24:10am - 80% done
01:24:30am - 80% done (stuck there a bit)
01:25:00am - 85% done (moved a few notches)
01:25:45am - 95% done
01:26:03am - 100% done (backup complete)
01:26:15 - Started Updating Apps
01:27:30 - Sync 80% done (Stylem only apparently)
01:28:55 - App Sync completed
01:29:00 - Pod Casts synching started
[Note: I was wondering why iTunes seems darker here than the previous and this was due to the fact I had iTunes selected as the foreground window for this screen shot and those that follow]
01:30:55 - Photos Synching started
01:31:00 - All SyncComplete
I highly recommend you download the 7.7.0 version of iTunes for PC & Mac from my other postings or other sources on the internet and recommend you do a clean slate starting with a 2.0.2 factory restore using 7.7.0.