Sadly, your view applies to only those of us that care about the version of Android that we are running. Basically only those people that root and ROM anyways. Of all of my friends that own Android phones, most of them are clueless as to what version they are running, and could care less. I have more friends with Android phones than friends with iPhones, and only one of them could tell me what version of Android their phone has. To us, yes, the latest and greatest version of software matters. To the general public, they could give a ****. Since we are in the MAJOR minority of Android users, it is very unlikely that we will sway the carriers to upgrade software any faster.
All the carriers care about is making money. If they can release a new phone with software that is marginally better, and add all of their bullshit to it, then sell the phone by telling the average user that it's simply "better" with little further explanation, then they're going to do it. That pushes them to only care about the latest and greatest, because it makes them the most money.
If everybody were like us, it would take something truly revolutionary or amazing to sell each and every phone. When I bought my captivate, it was the best Android for ATT at the time. When I bought my infuse, it had the best screen at the time. When I bought my note, it had the best screen and the spen. Those attributes are what speaks to the average consumer. Also, when I bought my captivate, it had a strong development community started. When I bought my infuse, it was a great phone with promise of a decent development community. When I bought my note, I knew from my previous two Samsung phones that it would have at least decent development, if not awesome development. That is what has kept me loyal to Samsung. Looks matter to the average consumer. Software matters to the informed rooter and ROMer. Since ATT and the other carriers know this, they will continue catering to the average consumer that makes up 90% or more of their market, not us.
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