Given that most people are stuck in 2-3 year contracts, "future-proofing" phones is something even the average consumer would want. I was talking to someone today who had a Captivate (original Galaxy S model), and after seeing a Galaxy Note that I was holding, commenting about all the cool features of current phones that they wish were available to them. As they were stuck in a contract for another year and a half, they couldn't justify paying for a new phone outright.
They aren't a "techie" or a power user, and even they commented on the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich for their phone. I shocked them even more when I mentioned the Galaxy Note also didn't have Ice Cream Sandwich, since it's a phone that Telus is heavily promoting right now. The suggestion of rooting their phone and installing a custom ROM is out of the question (and frankly, I don't think it should have to be done either).
If anything, this idea of abandoning handsets in less than 18 months (half a typical Canadian contract) are showing exactly our 3-year contracts here in Canada is totally absurd. Back in the age of feature phones, it was at least tolerable, but with smartphones it's a different story.