HTC, Samsung, Sony along with almost every Android based device manufacturer have their own version of skins that power their products.
These companies claim that they offer these customized skins to differentiate their products from the competition in the market.
The problem with this is that there are hardly any devices available in the market that comes loaded with stock Android. I mean most Android users out there would probably have not experienced the stock Android user interface at all because it has become such a rare breed.
Google Nexus branded devices have them along with few models made by unknown companies. Apart from that, stock Android is a rare commodity.
I mean how would you like it if your Windows OS based laptop from Dell or HP comes with a heavily customized windows manager? I do not see laptop manufacturers feeling the need to differentiate their products from the competition!
This makes is sad actually. These companies offer messed up customizations on their devices in the name of differentiating themselves from the competition. Why not offer stock Android devices to achieve the same!
There are so many benefits to stick with stock Android on your devices… It makes it easy for the manufacturer to release updates. It keeps the system requirement of the product lower. And best of all, Android ICS/JB looks beautiful. In my personal opinion, none of the third party skins look as pretty as the stock Android user interface!
HTC, LG and Sony are currently struggling in the Android market. Samsung and Apple have pretty much cornered 90% of the smartphone market out there. If these companies start offering stock Android devices with good internal hardware, I can safely say they are going to attract a lot of new customers.
I find it very ironical that HTC actually believe that customers go for their devices because of the Sense experience. Personally, I replaced my One X with Galaxy Nexus to get rid of the Sense experience.
Popularity of custom ROMs further proves that people are sick and tired of these customized layouts on their phones.
These customized skins are doing nothing but hurting the whole Android ecosystem. Users switching from one company’s device to another would have to relearn everything just because they get a totally different user interface. Samsung/HTC believes that this would ensure that consumers stick with their brand in the future. That does not really happen. People go for the device that offers them the best value for money deal in most cases.
Google is pretty handicapped in this situation. Android is relatively an open platform. Companies are free to customize it on their own devices. There are few restrictions but they are only to get access to the official Google apps. I do not believe Google can do much about it. They did what they could which was to come up with a user experience that would so good that customized skins look amateurish in comparison!