Mathematica is the system in which Wolfram|Alpha is implemented. It could not have a more solid foundation.
In my History of Future topic, I touched a few things about declarative programming (Mathematica's unambiguous language) and Quantifier Elimination a fundamentally mathematical technique to answer questions computationally. Is-there ...? yes-it-is-and-it-behaves-like-this....!
Wolfram|Alpha robustly supports free-form linguistic input and serves as knowledge engine. Mathematica's general symbolic language gives the framework of the knowledge representation and its vast built-in solvers provide the computational foundation. I always liked Mathematica-the-platform. And the Wolfram|Alpha Web Service API makes itself also platform. Call it from your programs.
So, a Mathematica program might call W|A that calls Mathematica. This might drive a co-evolution of new requirements and computational knowledge representation.
In How the Tablet Will Change The World (Wired), Steven Levy finds always-on tablet devices will blaze a path of future computing. In fact, they aim to make operating systems nearly invisible, to download and run useful daily apps, but also access power applications in the cloud.
Wolfram|Alpha on iPad let W/A go, where you go and again drives co-evolution of new requirements and .. the co^2-evolution.

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