It was designed to kill Via and it fulfilled its promise
Well, Atom was designed to destroy the threat from "cheap device which does what the punter needs". Which it did.
It was definitely not based on merit. It did it based on rock bottom pricing. Anyone tempted by the pricing had to take the poisonous pill of having their system specified to ensure that it will be crippled and non competitive. It is not surprising that the market is dead - that was by design. It is not surprising that this plot succeeded - if Intel joins forces with Microsoft the only thing that can stop them is WW3.
The job is done, Intel can continue to sell premium chips at premium prices even where they are utterly unnecessary. Microsoft can continue to sell bloated eyecandelicous bugware. Atom can now be confined to the CPU graveyard of history.