A number of industry notables, including NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, Vodafone, NEC, and Motorola, have announced their intent to provide a open-source Linux mobile phone software platform. I hope it works, but this may be much ado about nothing.
I've had folks around me adopting Linux on their PCs with various degrees of success. One of the key challenges is getting drivers and similar to work with arbitrary hardware: putting Linux on a Dell laptop is likely to eliminate the ability to use the DVD player. Or whatever. This problem should be addressed by the fact that the manufacturer would (we hope!) make the software work on the device.
The second problem is the dearth of user experience innovation in Linux. Despite being on a different core data structure, the GUI generally replicates whatever the Windows version does. Modifying the user interface is quite challenging, and is normally restricted to so-called "look and feel". That is, fonts and maybe graphics. (example: look at the differences between NeoOffice and OpenOffice - it's a lot of work just to get the same software to look right on the Mac)
So what this alliance needs to do is to decide - NOW - what the core user experience for the devices might be. This means working on what classes of devices might be (feature phone, entertainment device, "smart phone", etc.), and then planning the user experience for core applications for each device class. This needs to be done obviously with an eye towards manufacturer differentiation - but differentiation should be restricted to adding peripheral features and colors/fonts/layout.
One key source of efficiency in development and user experience is keeping data structures the same across devices. This will make synchronization and data backup easy (SyncML is a good start, this would go further).
Sadly, the consortia I've seen end up mired in politics, with features defined by the engineers and executives, not those focused on the user.
I'm worried that this agreement will result in yet another "design by committee" design, and Linux phones will have the same sort of second-class status that Linux desktop software does.