An article in PC Mag.com makes the argument that all the interest in a rumored Google phone is really prompted by the hatred of AT&T's lock on the iPhone. Right here:
It goes on to argue that there is really nothing people can do about it. They're stuck with AT&T or equally uncaring cell carriers until at least 2013. The problem is this kind of resentment doesn't go away quickly. People have long memories of being kicked repeatedly. 2013 isn't a long time away for AT&T to ignore it's need to turn around perceptions of it's service.
Remember what happened to AOL. It had a opportunity to lead America into the internet age. Instead it tried to use it's early advantage to set up a closed old style monopoly. Now it's just a relic of the quant old early log on days.
The problem is AT&T seems to be acting like the cell phone market is a mature market and it's time to try to milk the cow until it dies. Rapid changes in technology can wipe out AT&T's market share faster than it thinks. And once a downhill trend starts, as AOL found out, it's hard to ever reverse it.