The email I got from Apple (below) on a nearly brand new iPod seems like extortion to me. They're telling me that the thing is likely going to break and you're going to need phone support and if you don't pay us now we're going to charge you through the teeth later.
I think it is outrageous that consumer technology companies charge for phone support at all, though Apple is surely not alone here. Phone support should be viewed instead as the data mine it is. Use its data to improve products and marketing messages and above all make things that will actually work, not ones that will cause a menacing headache as you migrate iTunes libraries from one PC to another in order to consolidate a family of 5's 4 iPod's.
If I were Sony or anyone else determined to break Apple's stranglehold on portable entertainment I would start advertising free phone support, not just for my own products but for Apple's as well. Huddle the lawyers and get the disclaimers in a row and then engage each one of Apple's *somewhat* dissatisfied customers (dissatisfied by definition that they are calling in a problem with the device) and figure out what sort of product(s) would get them endure the switching costs.
Now that is (potentially expensive but effective) guerilla warfare. If they sue you, enlist the Naderites and eat them alive in the media as a company not interested in helping its customers.