Yeah probably just cheaper for the manufacturers to go that way, doesn't mean it's better.
Like I said, you could certainly run it without the actuator but just not as good as having the ability to free-wheel the diff when in 2wd.
The wear factor would probably be very negligible but why have all that extra gear turning for no reason? Also, if you busted the front diff 4wding, you'd have to stuff around removing the front cv's and prop shaft just to drive home. Very unlikely to bust a front diff but it has happened before.
You could throw a front locker in there to warrant dismantling the front diff. You know you want to.
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