I remember when it was announced that GNU/Linux would be permitted on the PlayStation 3 out-of-the-box and how this was a move to prevent piracy. These folks, who at least give the impression of being in touch with the hardware hacking scene, believe that making the PlayStation 3 open to other operating systems has kept it safe from the pirates. In a nutshell, the "smart" hackers open a system up and the "dumb" pirates then exploit the opening. By inviting the former group to play within some boundaries (certain PS3 hardware is still off limits from within PS3 Linux distributions) the latter group doesn't have a chance.
Now, that doesn't mean that the PS3 will never be hacked. All systems are hacked, eventually, I believe. But 14 months after the launch Sony is still secure. Every other system they've launched has been hacked to pieces, and they've lost out on at least some software licensing fees as a result. (I won't try to figure out how much, given how people argue that pirates would never have bought the games in the first place, that Sony might benefit from having more people playing software on its platforms, etc. etc. Perhaps we can all agree that it's at least greater than thr-- four dollars.)
Of course, the irony is that Sony finally had the right idea on the platform whose software fewer people actually want to play, much less pirate.
There was an official PlayStation 2 Linux kit from Sony, too, with pretty much the same hardware limitations, shipped right near the start of the PS2's lifespan.
How was that different?
My recollection of the official GNU/Linux kit for the PS2: expensive ($100+), special hardware required (sync-on-green capable monitor using Sony's provided VGA cable), and limited quantities (I think they took pre-orders and it wasn't available shortly after that).
That's a pretty big difference from putting instructions for getting alternative systems installed in the manual of every PS3 system, from allowing people to install whatever size hard drive they want, from allowing people to use (if they really want to) anything from RF to HDMI video output. And you don't pay Sony a single cent beyond the price of a PS3 if all you want to do is hack the hardware.
I'll check the specifics on PS2 Linux after I post this (just to see how far off base I am).
According to various browsing around:
Released: May 2002 (18-19 months after launch)
Discontinued: Sometime in 2003 (for USA)
Cost: $200, later discounted
By comparison, the PS3 Linux was possible the day the system launched, cost nothing to install, shares drive with PS3-as-console partition, uses no special hardware.
It's really a different situation, I think. Whether those factors mattered, or should have mattered, we can debate.