I have to think that all of this is causing headaches at Google. The whole point of Android is to collect consumer data and serve up ads, isn't it? If they don't have access to that data and they can't deliver ads, what's the point of them devoting resources to it? If everyone winds up forking Android, the only people left using Android will be no-name commodity manufacturers being sold to people no company's interested in selling ads to.
As for the consumers, yes, if they get all the support and curation of an app store, it would be great. It would be a huge pain for developers though -- rather than one, centralized app store, you have to go through HTC's, or Samsung's or whoever. But wouldn't this be a return to the bad old days, when every carrier had their own "app store" but the apps were all crap? Not to mention support from cell phone manufacturers is for the most part minimal.
This is where things are going to get really weird: Yes, Android does have a majority of marketshare in mobiles, but if everyone starts forking Android into their own flavor, the it throws the whole ecosystem in disarray (as in HTC has its own fork of Android, Samsung has its own fork, some other OEM has its own fork...).
And it's doubtful that these forks will be compatible -- and the OEMs might has well auction off data collection and ad delivery rights to their devices, while they're at it. They might has well be different OSs.
So if everyone starts forking, then the players with real majorities are iOS/Apple and, since we're looking down the road, Microsoft. Android can only lose in this situation. Maybe the scenario where Motorola becomes premiere Android OEM is how this whole thing plays out.
Again, there must be a lot of headaches in Mountain View. And yes, crazy and convoluted path, indeed.