Vanilla is the new differentiation
A new Nexus and a new version of Android are imminent and for the next few months all the talk is going to be about whether and when every handset under the sun will receive an upgrade to ICS. Most likely won't and the few that do probably won't see it for months.
Cue insane amounts of bitching from Android users at the wait and the lack of forthcoming updates. The downsides of Android fragmentation have been discussed to death already. The incessant skinning of Android by every manufacturer in their efforts to differentiate just results in making more work for themselves come update time.
Annoying as I find it, I can still understand the logic of this strategy from a business perspective. But I can't help feeling that the market is wide open for someone to start differentiating themselves by actually providing a stock experience. I know I'm not the only one who would appreciate a vanilla Android experience and besides the Nexus there aren't exactly a plethora of alternative waiting for me to spend my cash on.
I'm sure there must be a profitable market just waiting for the likes of HTC or Samsung to give them some handsets without Sense or TouchWiz. Would it really kill them to release a couple of devices just to test the water? The hope would also be that these devices would also be far easier and so more likely to get updates. Ironic as it seems, in a market full of custom skins I just feel like going stock would be the best differentiation of all.
This isn't rocket science so I'm wondering why it hasn't happened already.