This is what happens when stupid consumers let carriers control the market for phones by insisting that $500 is too much to pay upfront, opting instead to sign on for three-year $3000 contracts. But the phone is free, right?
Carriers should be dumb pipes, selling an interchangeable and undifferentiated service, viciously competing against each other on the price of data and the quality of service. This is the future they desperately fear, so instead they try to market the phones as if they themselves had anything at all to do with the services you can access or the software that Google wrote. They give their phones idiotic carrier-specific names like the the Incredible, the Enlighten, or the Illusion, trying to cultivate their own little brands.
Innovation happens at HTC, Google, Samsung, LG, etc. Carriers have exactly nothing to do with it, and need to be put into their proper places as vendors of connectivity. The next time you buy a phone, buy unlocked. Don't be afraid to pay a little more up-front: beating a small discount out of the sales droid will more than make up for it, and you'll get a phone that hasn't been fucked with.
You wouldn't buy a laptop from your ISP; why the hell would you buy your handheld computer from one?