id Software John Carmack is hopeful the current cycle of console hardware is made to last, so that developers can leverage their tech for as long as posible. That said, if the next round of the console wars is to arrive sooner rather than later, Carmack believes it is most likely that Sony will want to be the first of the console giants to introduce new hardware.
In gaining lead time the next time around, Sony clearly will not have to be ones playing catch up against the competition in every sense.
The whole jockeying for who's going to release the first next gen console is very interesting and pretty divorced from the technical side of things. Whether Sony wants to jump the gun to prevent the same sort of 360 lag from happening to them again seems likely. As developers, we would really like to see this generation stretch as long as possible. We'd like to see it be quite a few more years before the next gen console comes out, but I suspect one will end up shipping something earlier rather than later.
His musing is potentially in contradiction with Sony's own continued stance of pushing for a decade-long lifecycle with the PlayStation 3. Sony's confidence stems from the PS3's built-in Blu-ray functionality, which the company believes is more future-proof than ever following the demise of the competing HD-DVD format.
Carmack is also hopeful forthcoming consoles will gradually eschew optical drives supporting games on physical media, in favor of digital distribution. He cites the popularity and growth seen in digital storefronts like Apple's App Store as one major sign that console giants will want to pay attention to.