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
More reading at Dannychoo’s article about the Sony timer.