Does bigger = more reliable of the cigars ?
Maybe the basic design is sound, but it's all just a question of materials & design detail.
Cost might be the materials limitation, design - well it's early days I suppose.
Possibly the burn-out of thinnish Nichrome wires is the key,
i.e. hot wire in air = oxidises, and any baked-on gunk stops it cooling/causes overheating, i.e. a positive feedback situation,
presumably this weakens & thins the conducting wire's area & at some point there's a catastrophic burn-out.
Nichrome spec. blurb says the oxidised surface layer actually protects from further oxidation,
but basically I really don't think this material is up to this job (on a long term basis).
So a better, (even) more oxidation resistant metal than Nichrome might give longer life?
Platinum wire comes to mind.
I estimate atomizers use 0.01 mm diam. wire, 7 turns around a 1.5 mm diam core = 33 mm length.
This has around 1.3 ohms/cm, so the coil is 4.3 ohms.
Cost : less than 20p per metre, i.e. cost per atomizer = practically zero.
1400'C melting point
(Edit said 0.1 mm, should have been 0.01 mm)
0.025mm diam = 2.2 ohms/cm
Melts at 1770'C
This would need around 2.0 cm (only 4 turns) for 4.23 ohms, probably too few turns,
but 0.05 mm would be 0.55 ohms/cm & around 7.8 cm (16 turns).
A little pricier
0.025 mm = £70 per metre
0.05 mm = £65 per metre
but you'd get say 13 atomizers per m of 0.05mm, i.e. £5 per atomiser.
The solder connection might be even trickier than with nichrome
(which I think requires a special 'acid cored' solder/flux and lots of rinsing!),
but I'm sure it could be done.
On the plus side , the wire is thinner (more flexible) & significantly stonger than nichrome,
should be easier to wrap without damaging it.
Might have a go at this, then again I suspect there's more mechanically/electically adept
people out there, but laying out the cost on an experiment is the thing.
If the manufacturers tried something like this, but decided it added too much cost to the atomizer,
I would respectfully suggest that a £20 atomizer that lasts 10 times as long (grabs a figure out of the air)
would keep a buyer base longer than a £7 atomizer that you have to keep on buying, and buying .....
Also a plus, 'Platinum' E-Cig owners could but a platinum atomizer