My last touch with RPMs was far back in the days of Mandriva 10.2, since then, I use Debian (mostly servers) and Ubuntu (+derivatives, on clients). So I won't get myself into the argument...
Mandriva uses rpm5 (I leave the debacle aside). 10.2 was on rpm.org version thus not indicative of the rpm based distribution as a whole. A lot of change in rpm occurred which is currently on 4.10 which the use of xz compression, deltarpm.
It depends of your preference. I personally like rpm based better as I maintain these packages easy to create, the spec file is fairly
simple to use without much headache to manage other files for confugirations inside .deb.
Deb package has better documentation though thanks to its strict policy from its parent Debian.
Overall, in enterprise environment, learning rpm package is a must. In consumer market, either deb or rpm depending of the distribution (mainly Ubuntu or Fedora).