Of course, it would be lovely if we could dispense with the entire status quo wherein mobile carriers subsidize the cost of phones to lock people in to long-term contracts. I'd gladly pay more for unlocked smartphones if it meant I could pay less for service (you'd better believe the cost of all those handsets is built into your bill) and switch at-will.
Now, it's true that you can buy some unlocked phones today, but it's far from the ideal situation for several reasons:
1. The price of unlocked phones is substantially above the wholesale price which phones are sold to the carriers for (I don't expect a volume discount like they get, but a few hundred dollars markup is a bit steep).
2. Some phones simply aren't available unlocked without going to the grey market, including the iPhone. That's because a lot of the most appealing phones (I'm debating an iPhone 3GS or an HTC Magic for my next) are offered as "exclusives" for a single carrier. That means that, in my region, if I want a particular phone, I'm stuck with AT&T or T-Mobile, respectively, for service.
3. No price break on service. If you bring your own phone to play, you're still paying the extra that would cover the cost of a carrier-provided phone, which in this case is pure extra profit for the carrier.
Now, just imagine if a similar situation existed with TVs: you only get a cool new TV when you sign up for an extended cable or satellite contract, and you're then locked into using that TV with that provider. You'd also have to consider the tradeoff between the features you want in a TV and the coverage and quality of service you get. In other words, it would be an intolerable, fragmented mess.
But the service providers love vendor lock-in, and the phone manufacturers are only to happy to collude with them. It would probably take regulatory action to cut this particular knot. It's not impossible (remember when the FCC finally forced the mobile carriers to implement cell number portability, then they all advertised it as a great new feature), but I certainly wouldn't hold my breath for it.