But doesn't that sound incredibly fishy when Apple can support 2-3 generation/year old hardware with system updates that improve the phone and add features and Android handset makers deprecate system upgrade support for hardware that ships... This year?!? Sorry... Not buying it on the hardware front. The inefficiency in code and the length of time it takes vendors to port/update their phone skins (waste) is the bigger issues. Samsung and HTC have notoriously dragged with updates. If the UI is good enough, and at this stage I believe it is, it shouldn't require skins. If the makers want them though... Then Google should provide a UI toolkit and theme switcher that separates the chrome from the content and functionality. Not to mention half the time the skin UX is confounded by inconsistency that Vanilla Android lacks. Some form of UI toolkit and theme module files (think Windowblinds or Shapeshifter/Kaleidoscope from Mac/PC) could fix this. I'd rather see that than the tap to share that was raped from WebOS. ;)
Apple and the Nexus' are the only phones with decent support because the software vendor takes pride in improving the breed and continuously does so. You get your money's worth with the Nexus'. Your carriers and handset vendors only care about getting you to buy in, walk out of the store and support the system in the bare minimum. That's just fact. They cram things full of bloatware getting kickbacks from the software vendors who are locked in which helps pay for the phone. The rest is paid via the contracts and phone sales, point of sale accessories per phone, and the corner cutting and skimping on specs. Sure Android 4.x supposedly eliminates the software lockdowns, but it doesn't guarantee regular software updates or bug fixes. That is up to the handset makers and carriers and few really seem to bother.
Sure you can root... But just like many argue you shouldn't have to jailbreak, neither should you have to root. It goes both ways.
Besides... Project butter was about improving the efficiencies in Android. If MS could update WinMo 7 and make it snappy on older, less spec'ed hardware (many handsets were on older hardware with more locked down specs, but it was still snappier than many faster, dual-core Gingerbread phones), how did Android partners fail leaving a majority left on older hardware with less performance? Innovation... Pffft... Bollocks. LoL
Cyanogen Mod runs better on many handsets better than the stock ROM's that came with the handset (wished I could run it but being on a smaller carrier with an exclusive phone, not happening... Even if similar spec hardware on AT&T and Verizon and others can run it!), many of which that ran Gingerbread fwiw. iOS devices out of the box are hardly ever laggy and Apple addresses issues if they arise. Comparing both my Merge and Aviator... They were sluggish out of the box and crammed full of bloatware that you can't remove. Open? Innovative?!? More like selling out to the man vs. having the balls to stand up to the carriers.
Rather than flooding the markets with 20 variations on the same design (often with less RAM than it should have and enough bloatware apps. with services runnung in the background))... Why not put the effort into making a perfect handset that is innovative, polished, well spec'ed, and designed to work on multiple carriers (Hrm... Like Apple, Galaxy S III is close assuming Samsung stays on top of it vs. getting sidetracked playing to the phone of the month club) and actually fight to make it devoid of bloat and crap and put a greater emphasis on making sure that the phone grows with you over the term of the contract vs. being shoved out the door, orphaned with no updates or software progress, arcane system updates, crappy Adobe Air sync apps, no desktop integration out of the box and no bug fixes.
I have to pull the battery at least 4x's a week on the Aviator because it hangs. There's been 2 software updates (both requiring kludgy finger dexterity theatrics... better than the Merge I suppose which required a backup, wipe and reinstall pushed through from an AIR app.)) and neither have fixed it. My Dad, same phone... Similar problem. Happens half as often, but he uses it half as much.