Is Android's ecosystem boring and stale, or is customizability just part of the fun? We'd like to think the latter is true, but lets take a closer look.
It's been said that users do not like to pay for apps in the Market and the media operators have long held this same sentiment, but surfing the forums tells an entirely different story. There are hundreds of threads dedicated to the many different apps, widgets and launchers that allow users to customize their handsets. With every new smartphone release the inevitable "Show us your home screen" thread pops up. In those threads you can see literally thousands of different set-ups using the variety of launchers, widgets and applications available in the Market.
The current top paid Android app goes for $14.00 USD and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times according to the Android Market. That app is a launcher known as SPB Shell 3D. The next gen launcher changes the UI to a thing of beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the holder, but as you can see from the numbers, it appears many agree with this statement.
Looking even deeper reveals that users are ravenous for utilities that extend Androids core functionality. Keyboard replacements, alternative launchers, and odd sounding widgets find themselves on thousands upon thousands of handsets. Going deeper into the rabbit hole reveals a whole subset of 'hackers" intent on snatching up Advanced backup utilities, file explorers and ROM replacement tools. Besides games, customization is alive and well in Android land and users are intent on customizing their devices even if it means they have to pay for it. Thats the beauty of Android most will say.
All of this leads to a few possible conclusions; that there is a high level of dissatisfaction with the stock and not so stock Android ecosystem, and/or the customer base is skewed more toward techies, tweakers and hackers who want to customize Android because they can. You tell us.