I don’t think you’re wrong at all. Often times I think the vehicle manufacturers don’t have enough in-house knowledge on the implementation of technology. This is probably particularly true with the American brands. They rely heavily on their OEMs to develop things, and the “glue” that ties everything together at a system level is lacking. I’m seeing this firsthand at work. I’m a firmware engineer for an OEM that primarily supplies the off-highway and commercial vehicle markets. They typically lag behind passenger vehicles as far as tech goes, especially when it comes to the smaller manufacturers, so I’m watching them transition from a lot of analog switchgear and wiring to multiplexed systems and there’s a lot of growing pains there.
I think the advancements are a double edged sword for enthusiasts. The days of going to a junkyard, grabbing parts from a better equipped vehicle and wiring them in is over. However, if you’re capable (or a third party offers a commercial solution), then you can do much more than you could before more easily. Some things just need to be plugged in and turned on in the computer, and they’re up and running.
I’m starting to look at what GM has going on, and I’m finding that there isn’t much being done in the enthusiast community. There are a few companies that offer some stuff but they’re charging a massive premium. In my truck, I was able to swap in a cluster from an upgraded model to get the large LCD screen. I found one from a wrecker that had a couple hundred miles more than my truck, waited until the mileage matched, and swapped it in. It read the config from the BCM and configured itself properly. Now, to do the same thing on my Camaro, I have to pay $650 to get one from the only company that supplies them. It’s a restricted part and can’t be ordered by a dealer directly, and it needs to be bench programmed for my car’s options and VIN or it will lock when I install it.