It may have been a completely different environment in the early days, but the security has become critical. Russia had DOZENS of OEM phones using Mediatek processors sending device data back to China. BLU was doing the same thing here, and the same malware made it into the latest Barnes & Noble tablets. We are talking tens of thousands of devices here, and Russia is certainly moving in the direction of seizing all of Google's Android assets within their borders. A few more major security incidents, and we will be doing the same - Google only owns Android as long as congress says they do. Poof.
For myself, I DEMAND control of my device. I will be running Xposed, Cerberus, AdAway, Xprivacy, GravityBox, a bloat/freeze agent, and a wifi password viewer (among others). Any OEM that successfully prevents me from doing this crosses themselves off my list of acceptable suppliers.
Unfortunately, in order to obtain this control, I usually have to exploit OS flaws, then prevent the device from ever receiving OTAs again. This is stupid. One of the major OEMs should just sell copperheadOS with a functioning gapps. Power Android users HATE the manufacturers for the straitjackets of stock roms. Why make your customers hate you?