On the WSJ
Google plans to give multiple mobile-device makers early access to new releases of Android and to sell those devices directly to consumers, said people familiar with the matter.
…The expansion of direct sales marks a bid to exert more control over key features and apps that run on Android-powered phones and tablets, thus reducing the influence of wireless carriers over such devices, these people said. Wireless carriers typically handle marketing and sales of devices and thus can exert some control over the services that run on them.
Without the carrier subsidies, Google will have to go all out on marketing these devices as the carriers will do whatever it takes to keep their cash cows safe! As mentioned in the WSJ article, consumers like to test the phones/tablets before surrendering their souls in a 2 year contract. Enter Microsoft