Ubuntu's been my default when I've needed to get Linux installed & working on a machine with minimal fuss for years.
I hate Unity, it's a dreadful UI. But hey, it's Linux - I install my preferred WM and copy my config files into place, and the UI is perfect again.
I dislike the package manager, but I install synaptic and stop caring.
I hate Upstart. I've never been able to use it for a single piece of software without having to jump through hoops (at best) or rewrite the code (at worst). Like Unity, it strikes me as a product designed with a philosophy of "It works pretty well for most cases, and everything else can get stuffed". But I don't often have to make anything work with it, so I can mostly just ignore it.
There was a time when Ubuntu was a distro I genuinely liked and was happy to recommend. That's no longer the case, and appears to be a common attitude. So they've definitely gone into a decline.
But I still reach for the latest Ubuntu when I need a new Linux box. I just take a few more minutes to work around the warts, whereas once I didn't have to. It's still very good at being an easy-to-install Linux distro that mostly JFW. So long as it keeps that, and doesn't screw up by preventing me from working around the crud, it'll do pretty well.
And hey, maybe eventually they'll get back to doing stuff that people like, instead of avoid.