I agree that it will look like crap in a year. But I still think it was a good choice. It's stronger than the 4S, lighter than the 4S, less sensitive to breakage than the 4S, etc. Its an absolutely gorgeous work of art. I'd take the aluminum over glass anyday- People just need to protect it. I know it sounds like beating a dead horse, but just wrap the back and sides and call it a day. To go caseless will cause nothing but an ugly phone in a few months.
Maybe Carbon Fiber for the next one? I dont know much about it though- would that scratch? Or could it be nearly as beautiful? The white and black are both works of art.
The problem I think is that most of the people talking about this, and Apple itself apparently, fail to see the eroding effect caused by things like this over time for the brand. Think about the impact of millions and millions of scratched to heck iPhones walking around on people's perceptions of Apple quality. Apple's brand carries a carefully cultured assumption of quality worth the expense - the devices have a thoughtfulness and a build quality that conveys 'I am built well, and with care. I am worth the extra price'. When a consumer picks up a device like this and the back is marred with hundreds of bright silver scratches, the opposite message is conveyed. The device says 'I was not well thought out and well considered.' Maybe that in fact is not the case, but like it or not, assessments like this are often made by first impression. Take the casual person milling around the Verizon or AT&T store. They go and look at the iPhone - probably the most expensive handset on display - and it is all scratched up and looks like a piece of trash. What sort of impression does that make, and what sort of contribution does it make to Apple's brand?
I think the broader issue here is that the leadership team at Apple is not as in tune to these factors as Steve Jobs was. I know it is cliche, but I'll go there: I don't think Steve would have allowed them to release a device that scratches up this easily.