Just realized today why there may be a huge difference in quality between the Xbox 360 and the PS3... until recently Sony was losing hundreds of dollars on each PS3 sold, while Microsoft was actually making money (about $80) per console. Of course Sony's plan is to make that back in Blu-Ray and game sales.
So think about how the incentives line up: Sony really needs the PS3 to be relatively reliable, because the last thing they want is for people to run out and buy replacements once a year - that makes it even harder for them to break even. (not to mention that it might anger customers).
On the other hand, Microsoft doesn't really care about the Red Ring of Death, since they'll make money off of the replacement box as well.
The sad news for PS3 owners - now that Sony has a newer model, they're probably losing less money - maybe even making money by now. Which means they'll have a reduced incentive toward quality. Once a console is successful, owners will be invested in the platform... if you own $1000 in games you really have no choice but to plonk down for another box.
Note: I'm deliberately ignoring the issue with the lasers going bad, I gather this is something that even Sony couldn't really do anything about. The early Blu-ray lasers just don't last very long.