Sony timer

El “Sony timer” is a Japanese urban legend. The urban legend states that all Sony products are equipped with an internal device called “Sony Timer”, this device controls how long your gadgets is gonna work without breaking. Sony prepares the “Sony timer” so it will be activated just after the warranty expires. This way, you will buy a new, and “better” Sony product. There are people who even thinks that the Sony timer can be remote controlled so the Sony people can deactivate your new Walkman whenever they want. Playstations don’t have “Sony timer” because they need to sell games.

This urban legend surged in Japan just after the 90s ended, a decade where Sony launched lots of imperfect products, that failed, that broke and so on. People got fed up and the legend if you search with google there are more than half a million results. Sony has a very bad reputation in Japan, and it seems this bad reputation is spreading all around the world.

I’m sure the people who “invented” the Sony timer urban legend were very proud when Sony powered laptops started to explode :). Picture from Softpedia

A joke from the manga “Azumanga Daioh” inspired by the Sony Timer. Right says: “Believe in Sony!”, Left says: “Don’t believe in Sony…” . Picture from Gen Kanai

13 replies on “Sony timer”

Hi Kirai,

The picture of the laptop, I think it is a worldwide known picture of a explode Dell laptop, although they use Sony batteries,

just as the one I have 8^(


Wow thats interesting, I have never heard about this urban legend at all. Since the 4 television in my house are all SONY, maybe they will start exploding together all at one go.

[…] Let’s suppose a Sony employee has a great idea, he decides that it could be cool to eliminate the Sony Timer from a certain new device. The procedure in a European/American company would be to just make the proposal in front of everybody when having a meeting with the bosses. In Japan is more complicated, you can’t be so direct, because you could destroy the harmony. Before making the formal proposal you have to make sure that everyone agrees, this process where you ask for everyones opinion is called nemawashi (You could translated as “prior consultation”). I sounds stupid, but the advantages are multiple: if your nemawashi succeeds then your proposal will be accepted for sure, if there is some people who don’t like your proposal you can improve it adding/modifying stuff until everyone is happy, if your idea is “bad” it will be destroyed before the big bosses know; the nemasashi process implicitly deletes proposals that don’t have many success possibilities. […]

Well, I can’t say I agree with the ‘timer’ because I am a bit of a Sony freak and I don’t think I own any electrical gadget (Walkman, phone, PS3, Hi-Fi, TV, camera etc) that isn’t Sony..

I guess I replace them anyway just to try and ‘keep up to date’ with newer models but so far not a single one has stopped working.. I kinda keep them all in perfect condition as well so when it comes to replacing I have the option to Ebay them :-p

maybe one idea is “Sony Timer” concept is deployed by many companies, not just Japanese consumer electronics, the marketing people call this “built in product obscelence” or “BPO” :0)

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