As far as I know the first 12x drivetrain was developed in Germany. Most people here ride to the trails by bike, not by SUV/PickUp/Car. On the road/bicycle lane I use the 10/11/12 gears quite a lot.
Or just another scenario: I live in the alps. Normally you have to ride into the valleys on fire roads (Alpweg in German). I would not want to have less gears. Even 11 gears was not enough for our kind of terrain and usage.
I've been to the northshore twice and agree with you. Going up the mountain from the parking lot and riding down purely on singletrails basically needs 4 gears.