The US picked NTSC when Pal was clearly the superior standard.
PAL is higher resolution. NTSC has a higher framerate. They each have some other minor differences. Which one is better depends on your personal preferences.
VHS won out even though Beta was better.
Beta had better picture quality, but suffered from short recording times. The longer recording times mattered more to people. VHS also had better licensing terms, which helped the people making the hardware and pre-recorded videos. VHS was better for most people.
Some felt HD was better than Blu-ray,
Blu-Ray was designed to be the best format possible at the time. This meant new manufacturing factories were required to make them. HD-DVD was designed to be a "good enough" format. It's big selling point was that the discs could be made at existing DVD factories with only relatively minor changes to the equipment. The software end of the specifications each have their pros and cons, but were similar enough that few people had strong feelings about it. Ultimately Blu-Ray won because Sony was committed to building out the manufacturing plants. Once they built sufficient plants, there was little reason to use HD-DVD.
At the time it came out Firewire then firewire 800 were clearly superior standards.
Firewire was great if you were using it for high end equipment that needed high speed data transfers. It was great for things like digital video cameras and external hard drives. It fairly expensive though, and much less flexible than USB. USB won out because it offered enough speed for most devices, was extremely cheap to include in a device, and allowed easy chaining of a lot of devices. For the average computer user, USB was a lot better. While Firewire was still faster than USB 2.0, it wasn't a significant enough difference to matter for many people.