Growth of GaN and AlGaInN nanowires using metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) is investigated. It is determined that surface kinetics play an important role in non-equilibrium synthesis process such as MOCVD, in contrast to near-equilibrium synthesis by hotwall furnace reactor. Examination of crystallographic properties of GaN nanowires reveals preferential growth directions which are perpendicular to the c-axis. Such a tendency is analyzed by both thermodynamic and kinetic arguments and attributed to the minimization of (side wall) surface energy. Spontaneous formation of Al(Ga)N/GaN coaxial nanowires with distinct emission at 370 nm is observed. It is identified that the interplay between surface kinetics and thermodynamics facilitates the catalytic growth of GaN core while a limited surface diffusion of Al adatoms leads to nonselective, vapor-solid growth of Al(Ga)N sheath. The knowledge of crystallographic alignment is applied to the formation of arrayed GaN nanowires in both vertical and horizontal fashions, resulting in potentially new paradigms for creating nanoscale devices.