Reference models are NOT made available to the general public, what are you on about??? At CES this year Nvidia were showing off a tablet which was a reference model just for showing off some new tech. It's not in mass production and is not sold to the public.
It is you who does not know what a reference model is. The Nexus 4 is NOT a reference model. It IS a consumer phone available sim free and on contract from networks. Why is this such a difficult concept for you to grasp?
Yes NOW it can be a considered a consumer phone, but that's certainly not what Nexus has always been about. As I said earlier, Google shifted focus from developers to consumers from the Galaxy Nexus onwards as they realised the potential of a stock Android flagship.