Sony Accidentally Releases Armored On The Playstation Store For Free, A Sign Of Future Digital Options?

Somebody over at Sony is surely going to get spanked today. At some point yesterday afternoon, Nimrod Antal's Armored — a film which is still in theaters (and distributed by Sony Pictures) — was released on the Playstation Store in both Playstation 3 and PSP formats. Worst of all, they didn't even make any money from the blunder — the film was free to download for any sharp-eyed PS3 owner. It was pulled after about five hours, but in that time it was downloaded by many.

Sony has yet to comment on the blunder, but I think it could hint at some of their future plans for digital offerings. Specifically, it reminds me of their plan to offer Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on Sony televisions and Blu-ray players a month before it's supposed to hit DVD and Blu-ray.

Speaking to the NYT, Sony CEO Howard Stringer had the following to say on why they're testing out this early digital release:

The process of moving to the next stage of content delivery is as inevitable as night and day. And we're the only company that can do this because we own hardware and content.

This quote came to mind when I learned of the Armored debacle; the very same article also mentioned that Sony is looking into bringing future early releases to their other devices, including the PS3. Given their desire to explore this space, I'm thinking that Sony was intending to offer Armored as an exclusive Playstation Store offering before  its DVD/Blu-ray release. Why else would they even bother uploading the film to the PS store so soon after its release?

Stringer is also very right when he says that Sony is one of the few media companies that have the capability to tackle exclusive digital offerings on their own — without the likes of Netflix or Amazon distributing content to their devices.

It's a step in the right direction, but Sony needs to significantly lower the prices for these offerings if they want consumers to actually take advantage of them. In the world of downloadable media content $15 would be considered "high" — $25.99 is just insane. My understanding is that $25.99 is the purchase price for Cloudy, which means they could possibly offer a cheaper rental price down the line.

Discuss: Were you able to take advantage of Armored's accidental release? Would you buy Cloudy digitally at $25.99? Is the idea of digitally acquiring movies early (legitimately) appealing?

[Via Joystiq, thanks to /Film reader Andrew for the tip!]