Back when the US FCC was auctioning off the 700 MHz specturm to mobile carriers and Google announced its intention to bid I was sure that Google was about to for a dramatic change in the wireless industry. With their building the Android platform, buying up of all that dark fiber, building data centers along river banks (for cooling and power generation) in the Dakotas and building those shipping container data centers they were supposed to put at the Internet's major access points - I was sure they were going to set themselves up to compete with the existing carriers and force a change in the way the US wireless carriers did business.
What I imagined was Google setting themselves up as a wireless provider using the 700 MHz spectrum I was sure they were going to buy then offering essentially free devices in return for the ability to run local ads across a dedicated portion of the device screen. Anyone would be able to walk into a Best Buy or WalMart, plunk down $50 or $100 and have essentially a device with free wireless network access. When they pulled out of the auction I wasn't quite sure what they were all about and I'm still not sure.
When all of that press generated a few weeks ago about the proposed Nexus One device - a mobile device Google would sell direct - I was certain it was all bunk. That they just wouldn't try to go direct like that. Well, Google made the announcement today: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2357687,00.asp. With this new device, people will be able to plunk down the full price for the device and get an unlocked device they can use on any compitable network (just like I believe you can in Europe and other parts of the world). Once I walked into a carrier sales center with a device I already owned and only had to pay a monthly fee for service (no contract) I promised myself that I'd never do anything but purchase the device at full price and use any carrier I wanted. Now Google is making it so it's very easy for me to do this. No begging your carrier to allow you to unlock it - just buy an unlocked phone directly from the manufacturer and do whatever you want with it.
It's going to be very interesting to see what impact this is going to have on the US Wireless Carrier market.