HTC Hero will be out in Europe mid-July and that is one fine device.
Google can not "charge" more for free OS. They just want to offer more variety. I for one would go for fully-branded Google OS with no problem (I would actually prefer one since I use just about every G service) but there are more then few people that have no use for Gmail or calendar and would rather have more space on their partition for pr0n browsing or for decent MS exchange application. And, of course there are carrier restrictions, like recent AT&T stunt of delaying an Android phone and requesting AT&T look and feel instead of stock Android. They should just stick to Iphone and leave Android alone IMHO.