This is not a surprise at all. CliffyB struck when the iron was hot years ago by developing a game engine that was essentially optimized for consoles. Look at all the successful unreal engine games on consoles! Too many to count.
Carmack is late to the party but at the party of console optimized game engines none the less.
His number 1 priority is to make money. Make no mistake of that. If he can build a game engine that will yield good performance on the consoles and (as he stresses so heavily) is easy to develop and build game using the engine/megatextures, he's pitching his product HEAVILY to companies that want an alternative to the unreal engine to build a game for consoles.
It wasn't until recently that he realized he may have taken it too far though.
To his credit, at least he admits it unlike cliffyb who basically said screw you to the PC game market.