PC World has an interesting take on this with respect to the MacBook Air:
The PC world is buzzing lately about how laptop manufacturers are struggling to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air, which has exploded in popularity since the introduction of the third-gen model in 2010.
Here’s a question for you: why didn’t HP, Dell, Acer, Samsung, or some other huge PC manufacturer build the Air before Apple? The answer is: they did. Sony’s X505 was a razor-thin laptop weighing less than 2 pounds, and it came out in 2003! More recently, Dell introduced the Adamo in 2009, and later that year the even thinner Adamo XPS. These laptops didn’t sell. Sony’s cost over three grand. Dell’s were also too expensive, and the battery life was pitiful. Instead of fixing those problems, Dell killed the Adamo line. Sony and Dell built nearly-great products with critical flaws and instead of challenging their engineers and designers to find ways to address those flaws, they concluded that nobody really wanted these systems. Apple didn’t give up, though. Drive too thick and too slow? Apple commissioned a special case-less SSD that could fit in its slim design. It worked to make the motherboard smaller, the components cheaper, and crammed as much lithium polymer battery as it could fit in the case. By 2010, the Air had evolved from an overpriced, underpowered status toy to the must-have computer of our day.