I think your looking at this from an image purely basis, a happy face superficial thing on my part, I'm not knocking you for it this is how most people see it and understandable. You have to remember smilies are just the final output, this is what most people just don't grasp. The smiley manager feature backend and frontend is a feature just like anything else and that is the biggest mistake developers make by looking at it as being insignificant so to speak, or just think that a oppup window or dropdown menu will suffice. I have proposed a mockup, idea sheet of what I would like to see being taken seriously by a company (I'm not saying xenforo isn't, I think they'll be the first forum product to give us what we want with regards to a smiley manager) I'm saying that because no company has introduced a smiley system that oozes usability, good, efficient layout structuring, frontend category navigation untilising space. I'm looking at the bigger picture from a person who still thinks an innovative (common sense built) smiley manager is greatly needed.Wow! You do not fool around when it comes to smilies. Remind me to never come between you and a yellow happy face.
I find it interesting to sit back (from a very long distance, mind you ) and just observe what vB as a company is going through right now. I can just imagine whats happening behind closed doors.
Trust me, if xenforo ever does implement the kind of smiley manager I envision it'll blow your socks off. You'll never want to use popups, dropdown menus to get to your smiley listings. I would say my idea does kill 2 birds with one stone, but it kills a whole flock.