I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple shipped a cheap iPhone. And there’s nothing fundamental in Android that would get in the way of a industrial-design and user-experience rock-star team, whether at Google or one of the handset makers, testing the hypothesis that these things are central to Apple’s success.
Isn’t google the king of spending millions to test a hypothesis? If all it takes is a few Rock Stars of industrial-design and user-experience then surely that’s cheap enough for Google to test.
I’m pretty sure it is something fundamental but even if that’s not the case I just can’t see how anyone can think it’s as easy for Google (or a 3rd party) to develop and sell a high-priced handset with good industrial-design and user-experience as it is for Apple to get the costs down on one of their handsets that is already well designed and provides an excellent user-experience.