Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Digital cameras are must-haves

`URGENT NEED' The high-tech gadgets have become one of the fastest-selling consumer-electornics products, and sales may skyrocket during Lunar New Year

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

As she awaits the birth of her baby, Paula Lee (李雅惠), a 29-year-old accountant at a fast-food chain, said she felt an increasingly urgent need for a digital camera.

"I hope to buy my first digital camera with my year-end bonus, so that I can e-mail my baby's photos to my families and friends right away," said Lee, who was scheduled to give birth in early April.

Lee represents a growing number of consumers who are interested in few consumer electronics aside from digital cameras.

"A digital camera tops my Lunar New Year shopping list, although I already have one," said a 23-year-old editor at Sharp Point Publishing Co (尖端出版) surnamed Young.

"The one I use now is too bulky to carry. I want a slimmer one, like Sony Corp's T1, which is similar to a business card in size," said Young.

Local electronics stores, which already saw booming demand for digital cameras this year, said demand will continue to grow though the Lunar New Year holidays.

"Digital cameras are one of the fastest-selling digital consumer electronics products this year. And demand is heating up as Lunar New Year draws near," said Eileen Shou (守寍寍), a spokesperson for computer electronics chain Tsann Kuen 3C (燦坤).

Sales of digital cameras more than tripled from last year, to exceed 10,000 units a month at Tsann Kuen's 130 outlets, Shou said. Last year, only 2,000 to 3,000 units were sold a month, she added.

Tsann Kuen's rival E-Life Mall Co (全國電子) also had skyrocketing sales of digital cameras this year.

"It won't be a surprise for us to see triple or quadruple growth [in digital camera sales] this year," said Hsieh Wei-hsiung (謝維雄), an assistant vice president of E-Life. "We already see an en masse shift from film to digital cameras emerging this year due to improved quality and lower photo processing costs [for digital photos]."

Lunar New Year, which begins on Jan. 21 this year, has traditionally been a peak season for consumer electronics and home appliance sales, as people's pockets are full of `red envelope,' retailers said they are sure to see more sales in digital cameras this time.

Lee said she planned to buy a Pentax digital camera for a price between NT$13,000 and NT$15,000.

"Compared with Sony's fancy designs, Pentax attracts me bcause of its user-friendly designs," she said.

But Pentax is not on E-Life's top-10 list of most popular digital cameras. Sony's P8 and P10 are the hottest items at E-Life's 221 outlets, followed by models launched by Japanese Fujitsu Ltd, Nikon Corp and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co, Hsieh said.

Local brands such as Premier Image Technology Corp (普立爾), however, did not benefit from the strong demand this year, but lost ground to their international rivals due to poor resolution quality, he added.

With an estimated increase in sales in flat-screen TVs and washing machines, Hsieh said E-Life expects a 50-percent increase in January sales on top of the average monthly sales of NT$800 million.

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