Definitely interesting... so the same cost model as Google? Where does this leave MS' licencing strategy?
Same as the ubiquitous yet equally stupid Windows licensing stratgey. Now I'm by no means anti-MS, I love their development tools and the way they make software accessible to the masses yet their prices and licensing laws of late have gone from the "exceedingly expensive" end of the market to "just plain ridiculous".
Despite a large and healthy bank account, MS have figured out that their traditional cash cows of Office and Windows are not sustainable in the long term, especially with the onslaught of the open source model, wider adoption of rival platforms and saturation of the application feature set (hands up anyone who requires more than the very basic functionality of a word processor?). The problem with MS has always been that they want to control what people can and can't do with their platforms and apps and charge them a hefty amount regardless.
Essentially, MS is looking to move further into the software leasing business model whereby you have the right to *use* the software but not the right to *own* it. In other words, off-the-shelf packages are becoming history, MS would dearly want customers to rent software from them and pay a regular amount for the privilege to do so. The Vista business agreements for example are utter crap, it's no wonder there has been a muted response from the corporate world and that more and more public bodies are moving towards the open source model. It's also the reason why MS have been willing to broker bespoke deals to secure large contracts and hang onto their top-tier customers.
So where does that leave the Windows mobile model? As someone else pointed out, the PPC platform is (unfortunately) too mature to ditch and more likely the smartphone, or standard, version of Mobile will be quietly dropped as demand dries up. I reckon all those smartphone users though would sooner jump ship to Symbian et al rather than take up a bulkier PPC device and as the market consolidates, we'll see a more of the subscription type of app appear on PPC that offers a new value proposition. I don't think it was any mistake that earlier this year MSN appeared to charge users for chat, telco's would like nothing more than to increase these regular subscription based services and have been seeking the holy grail of the "killer app" or location based services to sell these smartphone devices.
Whilst MS themselves may have little to do with what applications are put on a device, you can't ever see them opening up the Mobile platform, especially as the recent EU ruling to open up Windows is still dragging on more than 2 years after a decision was made. This means that vendors will continue to have to pay for licences and in a business in which MS doesn't have a large market share, the open platform alternative is tempting.
As for Symbian, the move to open source is a smart one. Ultimately, all smartphone devices are judged by the features, and ergo the apps, that are available for them so anything to encourage better and cheaper apps is to be applauded.
Just my 2 pennies worth and after 10 years of Bottler McBean messing up the economy, pennies are all I have left!