Every company that has a product to sell in a competative market uses advertising, price discounts, free samples, or anything else it can figure out to get peaople to A try the product, and B keep buying the product. Some advertisement doesnt even have anything to do with that product being offered.
Some spend millions on advertising, while others twist arms to get their products shown on store shelves, and then other dont do much of anything and hope word of mouth works.
Each company is different because their products go after different demographics and their advertising budget varies alot.
I drink Coke, coke advertisement is everywhere, tell me one person on this planet who has never tried or at least seen a coke can/bottle. Yet this company spends countless millions on advertising every year. And you know coke is doing everything it can to make Pepsi users switch to their product. The fact that Pespis has gained on coke means people have a real choice in what they want to drink, and do so.
Commodore did a good job on killing atari computers in the US. I remember before I sold my C64 that I could get C64 games at the specialty computer store off the shelf, but atari games were special order and had 0 floor space. The PC did a better job of killing commodre (with help from CBM executives) but has not killed off apple. Actually apple has been thriving for years. People have a viable choice and some buy macs.
Some people would say that giving Linux and openoffice out for FREE is an underhanded attack on companies that charge for their software (kind of like japan dumping steel below cost in the US long time ago). To me giving a product away in the hopes that some day down the line you might get some service dollars from it is a crappy buisiness move (unless your a crack dealer).
Consumers are fickle, they will buy your product today and jump to somebody else tomorrow. Its up to CEO's to keep their company going in the direction the consumers are going or go out of buisiness. Some companies make a product that ends up generating 10000x the demand they thaught it would, they are lucky. Some make products that are decent, but find another company beat them to it, makes it better or cheaper and eats their lunch. Thats life. There were alot of factors that made some companies rise to where they are, these same factors eventually tear them down too. The IBM of today is not the same company it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or 100 years ago. Their products have changed dramatically since they were founded so they servive, commodore didnt so they are gone.
Hell even Nintendo isnt what it used to be, and poor SEGA is a shell of its former self.