In principle, I agree with you, and overall my opinion of Ubuntu is rather neutral because of this. There has always been a real need for a "newbie" distro, and nobody had managed to fill this niche before Ubuntu (many had tried).
I think calling Ubuntu Desktop a newbie distro is somewhat short-sighted; it tries to be a distro for all people who want a working desktop system. And that includes a lot of application developers, sysadmins, scientific researchers and artistic people who don't want to spend their time building/fixing an OS.
Originally Posted by pingufunkybeat
But it seems that they are trying to do their own thing. Their webpage doesn't even mention Linux (it's always the "Ubuntu Operating System, faster than PC, prettier than Mac"), they are pushing their own technologies instead of working with the rest (upstart, unity, appstore...), and they prefer to maintain their own patchsets rather than contributing upstream (I don't know if this has changed).
Historically speaking, it's others that pushed their own technologies instead of upstart, not the other way around.
And AFAIK other distros don't have anything like Ubuntu Software Center. Linspire had CNR, but that doesn't exist anymore. Are there any others?
In case of GNOME Shell & Unity, I think those started around the same time, and developers from both projects did meet even, but maybe their ideas were too different (although you can still see the common ideas discussed during that meeting too)?