The missing bit
This looks to be an excellent article and I'll read it more carefully when I get a moment free, but on first glance it seems to miss the real key to the Osbourne story, which is this:
Osbourne grew at a fantastic rate at a time when computer prices were falling very fast. It grew largely at the expense of other Australian manufacturers and retailers simply by pretending to offer amazing prices, prices often below the cost price of the components required to build a similar system. Many competing organisations went to the wall at this time because Osbourne were undercutting them.
How could they do this? It was a simple trick: Osbourne took the money six weeks in advance.Six weeks was a very long time in the computer industry in those days, long enough to see prices change considerably, often by hundreds of dollars. (Typically, the retail price of a typical system wouldn't change so much, but the components would: you'd be shipping a 486DX/2-66 instead of a 486DX/2-50 as your most popular model, or upping the RAM or the graphics card, installing a 5400 RPM 850MB hard drive instead of the 4500RPM 500MB unit you using a few weeks prior.
Osbourne, in short, had found a way to sell into today's market at much lower future prices. By the time they actually delivered a system, it was about the same system at about the same price as most competitors were shipping on that same day, so they could break even or make a small profit - but most buyers were not awake to the trickery and thought Osbourne gear was very cheap. And, of course, Osbourne had had the use of the customers' money in the meantime.
Eventually, inevitably, prices stabilised for a little while and the currency moved the wrong way, leaving Osbourne with no competitive advantage, no cash on hand, and a huge backlog of paid-for orders but no stock to fill them with. They went spectacularly broke and their many gullible customers paid the price. I remember selling several $2000 and $3000 systems at this time to people who had already paid in full for an Osbourne and got nothing at all except an expensive lesson in shonky business ethics.