Body cost not sure, but with four-third system, it will mean that the choice of lens opens up, at least Oly is pushing for it...so, more choice, $$ will be more competitive....But again, it will be good if we can be the beta users.
Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Minolta are not using the 4/3 system as they have a huge 35mm base already. Hence they will prefer to stick to the 35mm standard. Only Fujifilm, Kodak and Olympus is doing so.
BTW, incorporating image stabilization in the body has been done by the Dynax 7D from Minolta. Lens stabilisation is done by Canon and Nikon. Each has its own benefits. But I personally prefer Minolta's method.
And for those who are asking if a DSLR from Panasonic is a big deal... YES it is! There is a whole system required to backup the DSLR or any film SLR system. That includes lenses, accessories, flashes, software, etc, etc..... it's very complicated and requires rather specialized know-how... I presume Panasonic will tap Leica's experience although Leica caters mainly to the top range consumers... Not easy to break the stranglehold of the 4 top brands....
I suspect Panasonic might go the way Fujifilm did.... borrow the F-80 body to produce the S2/S3Pro.
Had the chance to speak to some Panasonic execs in Tokyo recently. The project is in the "exchange of engineers" with Oly phase and expected availability if 1Q of 2006. Was also told that the Leica lens was co-developed and is also being produced by Matsushita in Japan. Looks like they could break away from Leica if they want.