You talk about the bigger picture, but you don't seem to appreciate who matters most regarding what succeeds. It's not going to be the people on the doom9 forums, it's not going to be the people buying the kit in stores. The most important customers are the big OEMs, like Dell. And guess what? For those people, one of the most important requirements is being able to score points in the marketing game, so a nice open API matters LESS than "8 hours battery life" or some other marketing gimmick.
If you want a demonstration of the significance, look at Bruce Changs recent postings to the openchrome mailing lists. He pretty much admits the Via open source initiative was a result of OEM pressure.