Bitcoin development is ultimately investor-controlled, concludes Daniel Krawisz, and that has concrete implications:
The motivation of investors is the value of the coin. The general rule about Bitcoin upgrades, therefore, is that upgrades which increase Bitcoin’s value will be adopted and those which do not will not. Therefore, Bitcoin is not likely to be upgraded in ways which make it easier to regulate because that would decrease the value of the coins. Bitcoin might be upgraded in ways that make it more anonymous because a more anonymous coin would likely be more valuable. An upgrade which allows for larger block sizes is also likely to be adopted because the current limit of 1 MB will eventually limit Bitcoin’s value as a form of money. Obvious bug fixes are likely to be adopted, whereas cockamamie schemes which do not clearly improve Bitcoin’s value — such as proof-of-stake mining or changing the block reward schedule — have no real chance of succeeding and are therefore hardly worth talking about.
For a very different angle on Bitcoin development (that is also well-worth reading), see this succinct analysis from Balaji Srinivasan.