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I'm a hardware engineer and might be able to explain a bit. Industrial electronics doesn't seem to move at the same pace as consumer electronics from the outside, but there often is incredible progress at the same pace and perhaps faster than the consumer segments. It is often hard to discern to the outsider, because they lack domain knowledge to recognize these advancements.

On top of this, in certain fields, costs appear to remain stable and even go up a bit over time. In these industries, there typically isn't much demand for lower specc'd (AKA outdated) hardware. Often these products last such a long time that the used old models serve as the low cost market. Apple even copies this model by keeping their older products around longer than other companies and selling them at a lower cost.

In addition, the development of many industrial electronic products is extremely expensive and the markets are small (think 100s to 1000s per year). The company typically has to charge a very high price to stay in business.

While it's easy to look at something and think "I can make that with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi," this is basically the hardware equivalent of telling people you can make Facebook in a weekend (which used to be a popular claim here on HN years ago).

For me its the same as pharma. Can you tell me if a government (ex India) would like to devote resources to make cheaper ultrassounds they wouldn't be able to? I only buy non-technical arguments, unless the bill of materials is on the same order as the price of the equipment.

With pharma I think the main "cost" involved is about the risk of investment. It takes billions of Dollars to potentially make billions of Dollars from a single product. More likely you invest hundreds of millions of Dollars with no return at all.

It takes a special kind of company, almost a bank, to stomach that kind of risk. And this extraordinary risk also demands extraordinary rewards.

Medical technology isn't really the same thing.

The assessment of pharma isn't true, and is evidenced by their high profit margins along with price difference between different markets - same exact thing is substantially cheaper in the EU than in the USA.

How do you pay R&D engineers, prototypes, production, sales, support, etc... with such a low quantity volumes if the price is on the same order as the BOM?

Actually, depending on your precise definition of "same order", I could argue it already is. And while the gross margin will seem high if you are only used to consumer stuff, this is an almost useless metric for low volumes, where the net margin do not necessarily follow.

There are also not a ton of different vendors, so even dreaming about mutualizing some R&D costs (and that will mostly not happen), you would not save a lot.

Once again, cheap portable machines (but not able to do a lot) already exists.

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