It need not be as you describe. It also depends on mentality, as well as perspective. Please consider the thought that there is no such thing as an "alternative". There is only a computer.
When someone is about to get another or new computer, point them to something special. Try not to describe it as a minority, expensive, non-standard system, but rather as a unique, user-friendly, cost-effective and brave computer, as well as cool.
As long as you look at it from the corporate-standard-conformist-ritualistic perspective, RISC OS is indeed just as you describe. When people ask me what to buy, I advise them to buy (depending on their precise requirements and ambitions) either a Mac or a RISC OS machine. If someone already has a PC, I usually advise Linux. I can point out a lot of ugly stuff on Microsoft and its Windows products, which most of the time scares people away - remember that I only offer what I know and can point out to them.
To use and promote RISC OS is a responsibility of the small group of users left. If we focus our attention on its "short-comings", the market will suffer from that. That does not mean turning a blind eye, rather being optimistic and positive about something special worth its while.