Sony's Playstation HOME service has only just been announced, but it seems it has been in the works for a long time. There have been reports that it has been in development for two years or more. This post from 2005 confirms that Sony was working on this way before Wii's Mii social network was announced:
"SCEA and SOE are developing MMORPG(something similiar to ffxi) style online service for PS3 right now. It will have online pack which it comes with HDD and the online software. You can go online and chat with people like mmorpg style. Your stats will have the list of games you have and scores(or ranks) for each game, and other great things. And if you want to look for someone to play online for certain game, you have to go to this certain area(or town) for that specific game or the game will automatically takes you to that town. Sony thinks "hyper links" technology is a history. They want to create a "virtual world" for PS3 online service where people can actually interact eachother like mmorpg style. There are more great details, but this is all I can get for now. I'm not expecting you to believe me"