I'm not sure if I see an inherent contradiction in Google's statements and their actions.
Once upon a time, I was locked in the basement of a Taiwan mainboard factory. If you ever opened a box on a board and saw wacky English saying "To avoid electron discharge incident, careful inputting happy golden fingers in socket." Yeah, that was probably me getting mine back at the bosses.
At that time, mainboard manufacturers did not design mainboards from scratch. They would take a "reference design" which had been provided by Intel, Opti, SiS, or whomever the chipset manufacturer of the week was, and would then tweak that design based on what marketing thought would move mainboards.
Building a concept phone to show off the Android platform makes perfect sense. I'm not exactly sure why Google would be interested in getting into the phone retail business. It seems a lot less profitable than selling advertising.