You could make a strong case that Apple's phenomenal success with the iPad and iPhone make iOS the most-valuable software franchise in the world, particularly since the massive growth both products experienced in 2010 will likely be dwarfed by their performances in 2011.
Or you could make the case that SAP's sprawling network of global enterprise applications, which manage or at least touch about 75% of the global economy's transactions, represent more value than any other type of software.
And what about IBM's vast installations of middleware, connecting and integrating disparate systems around the globe? What it might lack in glamor, it surely makes up for in volume and strategic necessity.
Then there's the Oracle's database business, still growing steadily on its own while also getting a boost from the relatively new Exadata Database Machine system, whose first-year revenue is expected to top $1 billion.
Who's the fairest of them all? Which one encompasses the greatest value on the open market today?
Or, turn the questions around a bit: who the heck cares? Why waste time on this theoretical posturing?
Well, while I'll admit that there's a bit of sorcery that goes into these evaluations from investment-analysis firm Trefis.com, I'll also say that for business executives pinning their hopes to multiyear technology decisions to which their companies' fortunes will be tied very directly, it surely wouldn't hurt to know how the stock market is rewarding (or not) those various high-profile software franchises.
In that context, it's probably worth at least a quick look to see if the core software products to which you're hitching your corporate wagon are among those that investors are choosing for long-term viability and growth.
According to a blog post from Trefis on forbes.com, here are the top 6 most-valuable software franchises in the world.
(Psst: if you picked any of the four candidates at the top of this column, you'd be wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong):