Aakash, the world’s cheapest tablet, will cost Rs. 2250 to students. There are no subsidies as everyone expected. The price will come further down when the sales hit 10 million mark. And the visionaries of Aakash will not rest until the tablet’s cost hits $10.
Aakash is called UbiSlate commercially and the tablet will be available for retail sales, but we are not sure when. The tablet was developed by NMCET and IIT Rajasthan which collaborated with DataWind for manufacturing.
- 7 inch resistive touch screen with 800×480
- Runs on Android 2.2
- 366 MHz Connexant processor with graphics accelerator
- 256 MB RAM
- 2GB Flash memory. Expandable to 32 GB via microSD card
- 2 standard USB ports
- GPRS and WiFi
- 180 minutes of battery life.
- Tablet is loaded with UbiSurfer-browser with compression and acceleration
Made in India
There were many stories which were floated around about the Aakash tablet. Everybody assumed that the tablet will be manufactured in Taiwan. Surprisingly, the tablet was completely manufactured in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. And out of 800 various components in the tablet, 16% of the parts are procured from Indian suppliers.
Datawind’s Hyderabad facility can roll out 7000 tablets per day and measures are being taken to ramp up the production.
The first production lot consists of 100,000 units which will be equally distributed across 33 Indian states and Union Territories. The institutions which receive the tablets will provide their feedback to the Aakash team which will help in further honing.
Indian minister Kapil Sibal got what many Android tablet makers never could get. As per Sibal, the tablet is a highway and we need something on that highway. That something is the content. Sibal has openly called out all the entrepreneurs to start a content revolution. Trust me, this is a big void waiting to be filled.
To get started though, there are 70,000 eBooks, 2100 eJournals already available through the IIT programme. Over 100,000 students are accessing this content from 1500 colleges. Aakash will make this content accessibility and discovery more wide spread. The aim is to reach out to the 220 million children of India.
I haven’t laid my hands on the device and I am not sure how it will work. From the webcast, I can tell you that the touch screen looks pretty hard to press. But that should not be the only thing to be considered. The tablet comes with a keyboard and a nice leather pouch to hold everything together, making it a quasi netbook.
It is easy to get swept away in the world of Super AMOLED touch screen displays and glossy iPads. What every one should consider is the fact that this is a Low cost device with a very specific purpose : To educate millions of children who don’t have access to quality education and to eradicate illiteracy through digital literacy. Would Aakash solve that problem? It got the ingredients and with the right content I see massive potential for Aakash.
If the touch screen isn’t as responsive as it should, then get over it and use the keyboard instead. Think of it this way. If all you got is Aakash in your hands, what would you do?
PS : A high tech company like Apple with $75 billion in cash couldn’t deliver a webcast for its lousy iPhone 4S launch. Indian ministry with a shoe string budget webcasted its $45 tablet launch. Sleep on that for a while.