This post is a combination suggestion and support question.
First, respect is due to the WordPress team -- which provides via their hard work a wonderful and free product -- and the coder of the Kubrick theme, who has generously provided his/her work to the public.
And admittedly, Kubrick looks great and is aesthetically an excellent introductory example of what a blog or even a content management system can be. Cosmetically, I can see why it was chosen as the WordPress default theme.
That said, WordPress is undoubtedly driving away a significant number of would-be theme developers with its choice of Kubrick for the default theme because of what is 'under the hood' in Kubrick. Speaking on behalf of novice users everywhere -- and as evidenced by plethora of novice theme questions on the support forums -- the use of images to set plain background colors leaves me scratching my head. This is counter-intuitive to every basic html/css advice I've ever encountered, as are CSS selectors that do not appear to affect anything when changed. Not being of even an intermediate web coding level and not being familiar with PHP, Kubrick's design may be the wave of the future- you tell me. My point, however, is that if beginners are familiar with anything, it is going to be HTML and CSS. I realize PHP must be used, but providing a default theme which incorporates HTML and CSS language in an intuitive and sensible fashion better encourages newbies to modify and eventually develop their own themes.
It should go without saying that making Kubrick the default theme encourages new users of WordPress to use as a base for learning to develop themes. Users generally trust what the developers have incorporated as a solid starting point for such things. Meanwhile, the Classic theme -- also provided with each install of WordPress -- may be cleaner and easier to understand, but it is not aesthetically competitive, if you will, with most of themes out there. I thus estimate that there is little incentive for new users to use Classic as a base for modification, experimentation and eventually theme development. It looks too far removed from the look that is desired.
If this has been brought up before, I hope it continues to be until WordPress changes the default theme to something that will better encourage new and novice users to develop their own themes. Despite what some may believe, users lacking the technical skills can contribute much to the WordPress community if there an appropriate degree of encouragement and facilitation.
Finally, I am compelled to ask: what themes do you recommend for modification, en route to theme development, that build on basic HTML and CSS skills for beginners? Preferably, I'd like it to contain most of the look and functionality of the Kubrick theme. It should not, meanwhile, look like a geocities page from the mid 90s ala Classic.