1. slow burnout of emitter gear due to thermal degradation (yes, clock chips and transistors get hot, as do solder tracks and joints). Thermal runaway can occur if a solder joint fails and arcs, or overvoltage causes signal tracks to vapourise.
2. ionising radiation, particularly on unshielded components such as antenna conductors (I've seen something like this occur on an externally mounted amateur radio antenna: the sunward side of the antenna completely degraded, the result being that the only signals received (or sent) were on the shadow side).
3. component quality on consumer gear is not as stringent as it could be. Components can and do fail, and considering the number of components in a lot of consumer gear, it's a wonder any of it actually leaves the factory.
4. the noise floor of several years ago was far, far lower than it is now. The ERP of newer gear is (by design or by necessity) higher than older gear as more and more transmitters have to share the band. As a result, the signal quality taking a dive may be at least partly illusory. The equipment may actually be perfectly fine.
5. parasitic structures in semiconductor packages may be the catalyst for failure, either immediate or delayed. Such structures may be as small as a single atom of chlorine embedded in a crystal of germanium - innocuous at first (undetectable, even), but over time and use, that contamination will alter the chemistry of the semiconductor, possibly causing it to bond with the package material and rendering it useless. This might not even be an issue in high powered gear like regulators but in something like a microprocessor, it's a showstopper.
No facts, please. We're all happy complaining about signals, noise, and the general decline of the human race.