Originally Posted by nikon133
Commodores, Ataris... died not because they were working on razor-thin margins, but because they could not compete with emerging PC standard. They remained expensive and were overtaken by PCs on performance level for less money.
I was Amiga user, and recall well - Amiga 600, sold in mid '90, was prety much repacked Amiga 500 I had from '87. That was over 5 years of selling same product, with really minor updates.
Commodore & Atari couldn't afford to update their products because their margins were tiny - they barely turned a profit even when they were moving more systems than Apple, and once their antiquated systems saw their sales plummet, both companies imploded. Apple was doing extremely well during the same era with the Macintosh, and had plenty of money to spend developing ever more sophisticated systems.
Don't get me wrong - Apple made plenty of mistakes while Jobs was away, mistakes which by the late 1990s left the company reeling. (Mistakes including allowing el cheapo Apple clones to enter the market, going after the low-end of the market with their junky Performa systems, and developing an idiotic profusion of near-identical models that only served to confuse customers and up Apple's operational overhead.) Maintaining decent margins however wasn't one of those mistakes. For most of the time Jobs was away Apple avoided specs battles and especially slogging it out in the gutter with the likes of Commodore, and that turned out to be a very wise strategy.
Google, Samesung, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and the rest of the idiots in the tablet market are already hurtling down the trail blazed by Commodore, Atari, Coleco, TI and a dozen other long-dead former titans in the personal computer space. The only one I think stands a snowball's chance is Amazon, and there are two reasons for that:
1) They might actually be able to monetize the el cheapo customers they've got locked inside of their cut-rate prison sufficiently to turn a consistent profit on the tablet business thru media content subscription / purchase revenues (think of it as a combination of iTunes, Netflix, Pandora and magazine subscriptions), keeping their customers from defecting every Christmas to the next cheap tablet that plops out of some Chinese factory
2) They're going to fork Android, cut a deal with Microsoft, make Bing the default - if not the only - search engine and hoover up the lion's share of the ancillary search revenue spawned by tablets (the whole reason why Google got into this business in the first place). They're going to do to Google what Microsoft and Compaq did to IBM - hijack the platform and run off with all the revenue.
Google will ultimately regret ever producing Android, the same way IBM was nearly wiped out by the PC.