Apple and Sony may be preparing to team up to promote more than HD video.

The last weekend saw rumours surface that claim Sony and Apple may intend adding an iPod connection to the forthcoming PlayStation 3.

The new console from the Japanese consumer electronics giant may also offer full iTunes support, including some form of support for Apple’s digital rights management system, FairPlay.

Macworld can offer no definite confirmation of the rumours, but recent history of dialogue between the two companies may be of interest.

Battle for the digital home

Sony, which has lost ground in the music player market, may simply be moving to support emerging digital home standards in response to Microsoft’s aggressive moves in that emerging space with Xbox 360.

For example, Sony in July will launch a network audio system, the NAS-CZ1, that works with iTunes. This device allows music to be streamed wirelessly and is compatible with most audio files including MP3, WAV, ACC and WMA.

Partnership rumours continue to swirl. In February Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich raised his target price on Apple based on speculation that Apple would partner with Sony.

He predicted jointly-made devices running on the new Cell chip, and a selection of movie and music download initiatives between the two firms.

Sony Apple nightmare details

In 2003, then Sony chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei described working with Apple as "a nightmare". He revealed that Sony met with Apple CEO Steve Jobs several times in 2002 to "try to work out a mutual strategy".

He said: "But you know Steve, he has his own agenda. Although he's a genius, he doesn't share everything with you. This is a difficult person to work with if you are a big company. We started working with them, but it is a nightmare."

Idei is no longer Sony CEO. The new incumbent, UK-born Howard Stringer last year went on record to admit that Apple beat Sony to the punch with the success of its iPod. He said: "We didn't get there, and by that time, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was there."

Sony spurned Apple deal in 2004

Attempts at dialogue between the two firms didn’t end in 2002, despite the “nightmares”. In January 2004 Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered Nobuyuki Idei, chairman and group CEO of Sony, the chance for Sony to come aboard Apple's iTunes Music Store service. Sony declined the offer.

Jobs has frequently expressed admiration for Sony’s consumer electronics initiatives.