Here's one way to look at it.
Do we really think about (or even care) what company provides our electricity, gas or water? Maybe some of us do some of the time. But I rarely think about these utility companies. I understand since these are often monopolies we have no choice about suppliers and therefore little reason to think about them beyond paying our bills and taking care of the occasional service issue. But for the most part, these businesses operate in the background, much like the government or any other foundational infrastructure provider.
Is this where Google is pushing the wireless industry?
Their new Project Fi is agnostic as to the company and network being used. Fi will move us around to whatever service provider and channel is optimum based on the circumstances of the moment.
Think about what this means for consumers. All of a sudden the primary selling point for wireless carriers becomes meaningless. The carriers fade into the background because, under this new model, consumers would have little to no interaction with them.
(To be clear, it's only T-Mobile and Sprint for now, but my interest here is in the conceptual aspects of this new model.)
Question: What happens to an industry that loses the opportunity to interact with their end users?
Answer: They become a commodity that sells at wholesale. They lose brand value, market power and customer loyalty.
Question: Who gains in this model?
Answer: Whoever maintains the direct engagement with customers.
For now that appears to be Google.
Keep your eyes and ears open for what happens next. Will Google cut similar deals with AT&T and Verizon? If so, how will that affect the industry? Would that push the industry further toward separating infrastructure providers and customer aggregation/service providers (back-end and front-end specialization)?