some people in Japan actually believe that Sony puts a timer in their devices to cause this?
The theory is thus: Sony puts a time-activated "kill switch" in its various electronics, from TVs to computers to god knows what else, and after a scheduled period of time (after the warranty is up), it activates, causing the user to either have to pay to get it repaired or replace it.
I don't know how much stock I'd put into it: my Walkman, Discman, and Vaio desktop continued to function until whenever I stopped using them, and the only hardware problem I had with my Playstation 2 was when it stopped playing PS1 games...which was apparently a known error, so Sony fixed it for free, shipping and all. So I can't complain too much.
It also seems odd to me that in two decades, no one could definitively locate this "kill switch" to prove its existence.
But hey, conspiracy theories are fun, and we've all suffered the heartbreak of a treasured device breaking right after its warranty is up (R.I.P. first MP3 player).