Why bar end? A few reasons I like and a bunch of others I find suspect.
1. No cables that limit your bar bag.
2. Allows tweaking the dérailleur position.
3. Allow you to dump the whole cassette in one motion. Ride the Appalachians and you'll know why this is good.
Once you get used to them, you'll realize that you don't need to move your hands much more than you do with STI--in some cases less.
There are a lot of factors at play so folks preferred choices are likely to be different and indeed mine are just about opposite yours in this case.
1. I never had problems using a bar bag with brifters. I just swept the cables into a position that kept them safe and out of the way.
2. The little half clicks on the front always worked well enough for me with brifters and the indexing generally is flawless on the back.
3. I find that brifters do big shifts plenty quickly.
I never found the location of bar ends convenient to me they always seemed awkward. I wanted to like them, but they just didn't work out for me. I find that with brifters in all the hand positions that I use much I either don't need to move my hands at all or have to move them an inch or maybe two. Also I tended to bump bar ends with my knees and they tended to get bumped out of gear when parked.
I actually much prefer down tube shifters on bikes that don't have brifters and would even consider them if building up a new bike if it had a frame that supported down tube shifters. Since I ride with fairly deep drops, low bars, and a smallish frame they are actually about the same height as bar ends would be on my bikes. BTW the indexing works so well on my downtube shifters that I have never wanted or needed to use friction mode at all on the RD.
Bottom line, despite using nice Dura Ace shifters, I disliked bar ends enough that I took them off of my bike and never put them back.
Not suggesting that everyone will have the same experiences that I did with them, just suggesting that bar ends are not for everyone.