Asia-Pac service for faulty Sony camera

In Asia-Pacific, Sony is offering free diagnosis and repair of a fault in the Cyber-shot DSC-P1 digital camera, after customers complained of poor battery life.

update In Asia-Pacific, Sony is offering free diagnosis and repair of a battery fault in the Cyber-shot DSC-P1 digital camera, after customers complained of a shorter-than-expected battery life.

Users will have to check their local Sony Web site or call their local service centers for details. In the Singapore and Malaysia Sony Web site, owners are told how to get free servicing for the camera. In Singapore, the servicing will commence from May, and in Malaysia, from June. However, this free service period will end April next year, according to a Sony spokesman.

The consumer electronics giant said Wednesday that dust and oxidation on the external power port of the Cyber-shot DSC-P1 is leading to longer recharge and shorter battery times. Camera owners will have to send the camera to a repair center, and once it is fixed, it will be returned, according to a company representative.

Battery life problems occur under certain conditions and only after a long period of time, so Sony expects just a fraction of camera owners to be affected. Approximately 500,000 units of the model have been sold, according to industry estimates.

Although Sony stopped selling the 3-megapixel camera in Sept. 2001, offering additional support makes sense, said Chris Chute, an analyst at research firm IDC.

"Sony customers are generally willing to pay more for quality, and they are likely to be a repeat buyer, so it makes sense to take care of them," he said.

Chute added that the diminutive Cyber-shot DSC-P1 helped to start a number of trends in the industry, such as small designs and silver cases.

The model also helped Sony to take over the top market share spot from Olympus two years ago. Since then, Sony has maintained the No. 1 spot in the worldwide digital camera market, with Olympus in the No. 2 spot, followed by Canon. Sony shipped 5.5 million units in 2002, according to IDC.

The Cyber-shot DSC-P1 came out in late 2000 and was one of the more popular models in Sony's portfolio. The company has based several other models on the same design.

CNETAsia staff contributed to this report.

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