All of that said, the Xbox 360 is very cool. But will it be able to withstand the predatory juggernaut of Sony? I have long suspected that the PS3 won't hit stores in America until Christmas 2006--they've used these promise-and-delay tactics before to try to keep consumers from buying a superior rival system that beat them to market. But even with a one-year lag, Sony's installed base is so much bigger than Microsoft's that I had a hard time envisioning them losing this generation of the console war. Until now.
This story on Sony's application for U.S. Patent #6,816,972 looks like corporate suicide. Sony has gone and patented technology which would:
verify that when software was inserted into a "machine" (read: console), it was registered to that machine. If it couldn't, the technology would prompt the machine to shut down, preventing the software from being accessed.
Such measures would be fine and dandy, were they targeted at pirated software. But the patented tech--which bears the name of Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi--is specifically designed to prevent used software from being sold. "Since only titles for which legitimate software has actually been purchased and which have been initially registered in the machine table can be used, resale (so-called used software purchase) after purchase by an end-user becomes practically impossible," it reads. Such measures would also prevent lent or rented software from being played.
In other words, if Sony puts this technology into action, you could no longer play borrowed, used, or rented games on your Playstation.
When asked if they intended to use this technology, a Sony spokesperson would say only that, "We have made no official statement regarding coding for PS3 games." Not much of a denial.
And, as Sony's DRM rootkit fiasco has shown, they're not, as a company, opposed to being User Hostile.
Who would have guessed that in a corporate battle, Microsoft would be the morally superior, consumer-friendly party?