We all have to remember that Google is a company which loves to beta test new ideas on a huge scale. Their "Google Phone" webstore was a beta test which happened to fail. But fail isn't the right word, since the test "succeeded" in that it showed Google (and other US companies) that US consumers aren't (yet) interested in unlocked, unsubsidized device purchases.
Look at their fiber network buildout as another example. They're just beta testing it to see if it takes off (which it will, IMO).