Paul Shirley - the days when the carriers "took liberties" with phones in the days before the iPhone and Android were dark indeed. But trading a bunch of little kings in the form of carriers "taking liberties" in their own best interest for one big king in the form of Google doing the same in their own best interest is a worse deal. At least with carriers there are plenty to choose from. There is only one king in Google's Android ecosystem.
Android is open, except where Google doesn't want it to be. In those places it is walled off every bit as much as iOS, and it is being done for purely financial reasons, to support and enhance Google's data collection and advertising empire. You can argue that Apple sucks because (for example) browsers have to use WebKit, but it is hard to argue this is being done to make Apple richer. Maybe you think their reasons are misguided or wrong, but not allowing a "proper" Firefox on iPhone isn't making Apple any money. When Google blocked on day one and continues to block (again, for example) alternative location services, that's purely because they don't want ANY competition in the ability to collect and sell data on their users.
Does the average person know or care about this? Of course, they just want a device that calls, texts, runs Facebook and Snapchat, and so on. If it costs less they aren't going to care to ask why that is, or maybe even care if told. Likewise, they didn't know or care about how their phone was being limited by their carrier a decade ago. It did what they wanted - what they understood a phone of 2006 was capable of which aside from calling and texting and taking 1 megapixel photos if they were lucky, was "not much".