Google executives are pushing developers to create applications for the web, saying the Web has won, and suggesting that building applications for the desktop may no longer necessary. Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra,  speaking at Google’s  “I/O conference” in San Francisco declared, “The web has won.” Developing “native” applications that run on computer desktops or other devices will eventually be superseded by more lighter and dynamic apps that run in the web browser, he implied.

But what about Apple’s App Store, which recently crossed the 1 billion download threshold, a reporter asked this morning at the briefing? Isn’t that a sign that apps that run on your phone still have a future?

Well, maybe. Gundotra didn’t criticize the App Store’s model directly (after all, Android has an Android Market for native apps too), but he said legacy systems coexist with new models for a while before they’re replaced — for example, Microsoft’s Windows and DOS operating systems coexisted for a while before everyone switched to Windows. Still, Gundotra noted that the Gmail application which runs in the iPhone’s browser, rather than being downloaded as an application, has seen “crazy user adoption.” He also said the iPhone does a good job of balancing the best of both worlds, because if a user adds a bookmark for a website or web application in the iPhone homescreen, it looks exactly like an app downloaded form the App Store.

Later, answering a related question about whether web applications will ever completely replace desktop apps, Gundotra said, “I don’t know.”

[photo:flickr/Mykl Roventine]