Are Samsung and HTC paying Google for the Stock phones?
* This post isn't backed by any facts. It's just my opinion.
What if Google figured out a way to fix the android update problem by dedicating a team to releasing the android code on specific hardware. OEMs are perhaps paying Google for that privilege.
Since, the GS4GE and HTC ONE GE will get updates along with Nexus devices, this means Google has to have a team working on releasing the android code for gs4 and htc one hardware. If Google then hands over the code to Samsung and HTC, they will have the code which will take them months to compile themselves.
Now, all they have to do is put their skin and change the code depending on region and CDMA/GSM. Isn't most of the work already done for them? Adding a skin shouldn't take long and international variants that don't have to wait for carriers to approve the updates can get the skinned updates not long after the Google editions.
I think this can work. Allow OEMs to pay a fee to pay for the dedicated employees that release android for custom hardware.