I agree that this would be an utterly idiotic move, however I do not put it past sony, knowing their past, present and future plans particularly in the content arena.
The introduction of every new format has been less an arguement of superiority, as often times the new technology is less practical in real world scenarios then the existing media. Rather it is an issue of slowly piracy and in some ways curbing fair use. Some were successful some were not.
The introduction of the CD was pushed by the ease by which audio tapes could be copied and mixed. Sony, seeing the tremendous number of audio tracks being dubbed introduced a format which the typical consumer would have no accessable way to duplicate. At least initially. Although audio CDs were technically superior their practicality in things such as portable music in DiscMans and Car audio did not gain them significant take over until the mid-late 90's. Sony of course lead the charge from tape audio to CD with its line of Discmans and eventually fazing out the inclusion of audio tapes in their stereo systems. And even making the PS1 the poster child for CD technology and its future uses. As CD-burners gained popularity Sony attempted to introduce 2 new audio standards in hopes of curbing the growing CD piracy. These two attempts where mini-discs(which touted a much more portible and thus consumer friendly feel as they were essentially mini-CDs. The other format was SDVD which was essentially the HD-DVD of the CD realm. Sony touted its high capacity and sound fidelity as a neccesary step for audio sound. The result of BOTH of this formats is their failure and a resulted in their succesor to the CD format as Mp3. A highly portable data format which may not give the same sound quality as CDs and definitely not Sdvd, however its sheer portability and accessiblity made it a staple for the next generation of sound. The introduction of a medium designed around that premise (Apple's Ipod) propelled it to the forefront. It is important to note here the mp3s only gained the support they have in the mainstream, due to their piracy roots, not to mention the speed at which broadband has infiltrated american culture. The succesor to CDs is not a replacement, but an add-on to the existing format, and often work simultaneously in the same systems. Sony did try to counter-act the mp3 format with its own proprietary format entitled Atrac, which until one year ago sony refused to support mp3 format in any of its electronics. Yes sony will ban popular formats from its electronics if it thinks it can push its own propreitary format.
So that is the history of sony's audio formats but how does it apply to the Ps3 and blu-ray. One only needs to look at the history of its video formats to see the answer. VHS was pain for Sony. To make an illegal copy of a copyrighted movie all the user needed were two VCRs in one household. Similar to the audio tape decks which shipped with the capacity to copy tapes. (Dual tape deck) unhappy with the VHS sony pushed other disc based formats until it finally succeed with DVD by introducing it in its Ps3. The format succeeded as consumers scrambled to get the lastest technology which was dramatically different from the previous generations. The "wow" factor alone pushed consumers into the purchase of DVDs. This is not to say that is was not a superior format, but in retrospect the "need" to switch to the DVD format is silly in many consumers minds. The reason blu-ray is met and will be met with such skeptism is that Sony has pulled the same trick many times before. If you recall the audio history the movement from an analog format to digital and then to a smaller digital format can be seen like this.
as you can see from the pattern, Sony follows the same pattern where a wildly successful format is followed by two failures which use the same basical media structure. This format is then overtaken by a technically inferior but highly portable medium. MP3 for audio, HDWMV for video.
Now the REAL difference between Blu-ray and HD-DVD are NOT the capcity and transfer speeds. If that were the only arguement Blu-ray would win hands down. The actually issue at hand as the CONSUMERS rights. The idea and premise behind Sony's thinking is consumer owned media. Where customers own the physical media and are free to buy and resale it as they choose as long as its just the physical media. Thus Sony wants you to buy multiple copies of the same intellectual property. IE spiderman DVD, Soundtrack, UMD and Blu-ray discs. essentially it multiplies their profits 4 fold for each movie they and the numerous studios which support them produce. The reason MS supports HD-DVD is that is allows consumers to make copies within a certain limit and share them between their video Ipod, their 360, their media center, etc. Thus MS wants you to purchase the intellectual property ONCE and enjoy it across multiple platforms regardless of who makes them. (of course MS wants the platforms to be windows based or use their HDWMV codec)
so really the question becomes do you want to buy a move, retail and use it whenever and however you want. Or do you want the right to sell you property when you are done with it, but its only useable on specialized platforms and you must purchase it again for each different platform you want to view your media.
My message to the people is to stop being so blind, this is what the REAL issue of Blu-ray versus HD-DVD is about and which ever your preference is support that one. Personally I's like to be able to listen to my music and which my videos anywhere so that I can record my shows on DVR hook up my Vpod and take my movies on the go, al without having to purchase the same content multiple times. Anyway the who issue is whether Sony would do this or not. Basically knowing their History I would not put it past them and neither should you. If this is the truth they have taken it to a who new level. If you thought it was bad that your HDTVs wont work with hi-def content,
(HDCP really will kill the HD momentum anyway)
then this is even worse.
for anyone who thinks Sony is not that under-handed -
"After taking issue with anyone using the terms "spyware, malware or rootkit," Thomas Hesse, President of Sony's Global Digital Business, literally says: "Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?" Ah, right. Because people don't know about this technology that was installed without proper notification, which hides things on their computers, which can be misused by those with malicious intent to hide more software on their computers potentially causing all sorts of damage... they have nothing at all to worry about. This goes beyond the "trust us" response they were originally stating to the unfathomable rationale that what you don't know about can't possibly hurt you. "