In addition to the many consumer-facing improvements to Windows Phone announced today in WP 8.1, Microsoft made the significant announcement that henceforth it is no longer charging a licensing fee to manufacturers for devices under 9-inches in screen size. While this doesn’t turn Windows Phone into an open-source and customizable OS like Android, it does make the barrier to entry significantly lower for low-cost OEMs.
Last month, Microsoft announced nine new Windows Phone partners, many of whom are dominant in smaller markets like China and India. Two of those partners, Lenovo and LG, could potentially bring Windows Phone hardware to North America (LG already did it in 2010), while existing companies like Huawei may expand their product offerings. (more…)