You've hit the nail on the head. The manufacturers are driving the change, and it's the marketers driving the manufacturers. I don't know if there's anything consumers can do, unfortunately.
It goes like this. Component manufacturers (Shimano, Campangolo, and SRAM) sell the overwhelming majority of their output to bike makers. Bike makers want to sell lots of bikes, naturally; it's how they make money. And most of the people they sell these bikes to don't know what they need, so they buy the bling ads and bike magazines tell them to buy. Laterally stiff yet vertically compliant? Buy that one (never mind it's impossible)! Eight speed? No good, there's a 9 speed next to it. And look! 10 speeds! Even better, 11 speeds! Best of all, 11 speeds with electronic shifting! Who cares if it covers the same gearing range as the outdated 9 speed (or even 7), more is better! It might not shift because the battery's dead? No problem, I'll only ever ride 100 miles in a day, in 5 hours. (5 hours 'cause I know I'm slow!) Who says so? Buycycling magazine and its ilk, which exist to (you guessed it!) sell magazine ads, and oh, maybe some subscriptions too, so they can sell more ads.
Any bike manufacturer who tries to fight the "more is better" mantra is going to lose sales. Likewise any bike shop. So they'll keep selling 9-speeds this year as "cheap" bicycles, but you know you really ought to "upgrade" to 11 if you can afford it.
Pretty soon there's no demand for 9 speeds (like there wasn't any demand for 8 speeds a few years ago). The manufacturers used to make 9 speeds in the top of the line, then it was the bottom of the line, pretty soon it'll be out of production, period, and you'll have to troll for used parts on Ebay to keep that group going. Or better yet, buy the a new bike with the new 14 speed group that will be announced in Next Month's Buycycling magazine!
Buy what you want, buy the spare parts to keep going as long as you can afford to; as I wrote above, I don't see any way to beat down the rampant stupidity. Sit down with a mechanical engineer who's been around a while and ask him about some of the claims -- he'll get a good laugh out of them.