I've been on Ubuntu through various releases for past 5 years.
GNOME has always been the default interface because it's 'dumbed down' which is what "clean and streamlined" really means, IMHO. That makes it more "accessible" to Windoze refugees- not a bad thing really, but it would be better for folks to be a bit more adventurous. I always add the KDE interface on top of gnome, so the gnome apps are available, but I seldom use any.
As far as I'm concerned, ease-of-use always takes a back seat to detailed control. For example, I've never owned a car with automatic transmission, and so long as I have the physical ability to use it and they are still available, my car will always have a clutch.
As far as the shell or command line usage, it's no surprise that GNOME users shy away from it. I have been progressively using it more and more. Why wait for a gui app to boot, then rustle through various menus to do something, when you can just do a command string? Bingo, you're done.