I guess part of the fun of thinking about how things will evolve is that there is no easy answer or sure bet when referring to evolution. There's been multiple examples of how the technological superiority is not necessarily the winning hand, being the QWERTY one of the most cited ones even if it's of doubted historical accuracy.
This thought came to mind when I was reading "The Web According to Ballmer" some days ago. When asked about Microsoft's top competitors, he was doing a nice analysis including three totally different strategies companies came up to compete with Microsoft:
. open source (linux business model), their strategy extend their value and compete.
. advertising as a business model (I'd call it Google paradigm: web as a platform), their strategy embrace.
. software monetized through hardware (iPod), specially interesting to get markets as China, India and Southamerica that will not pay for software as much as for hardware, again strategy compete (Zune).
It might get really interesting if some or all of the competing paths' companies partnership and unite. There seem to be many signs that a lot of that is happening already.
Anyway, this article just let me wondering how unpredictable evolution is ... how many different avenues can be taken to address one same problem (such as how to defeat the current software giant?), and how hard it is to predict the outcome.