When the din over the Oscar awards and the Union budget dies down this week, you will hear about the next version of the Apple iPad.
It seems funny, but the iPad was launched less than a year ago, but its brand value has been registered in a generic way among people at large as a benchmark or ‘aspirational high’ for those wanting tablet computers. And its entry-level version now costs about Rs 27,000 in India, with cheaper ones in bargain deals.
Yet, being an industry watcher at its less glamorous levels, I have been predicting that by next Diwali, you will have tablets that cost R10,000. Guess what? The Rs 10,000 tablets are already here, though you could always quibble on the features.
Simply put, tablets involve not only the slickness of design or the touchscreen feature made famous by iPad, but factors such as storage memory, processor speed and the screen size, besides software applications. Yet, the fact remains that for on-the-go social networking and Web surfing, e-reading and audio-video streaming, the utilities that I link most with tablets, I think a decent minimum of features should be enough. And Google’s Android platform is making this easy for dozens of manufacturers.
I was excited therefore when I spotted an ad a few days ago that showed Indian shopping portal offering a sub- R10,000 tablet.
French tablet maker Archos seems to be the most aggressive player in this. The respected online tech site Engadget almost gushes that Archos has a $199 (that’s about R9,000) touchscreen-enabled 8GB, Android 2.1 device with a10.1-inch screen while an 8-inch version with 4GB storage is available for $150.
While at that, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, having its own broadband spectrum now, is said to be planning a sub-Rs 10,000 tablets as well for Indian customers.
When I checked out an online shopping site I found brands such as iRobot, Ectaco, Wespro, ePad and Accord selling cheaper tablets. Such brands could do for tablets what brands such as Lemon, Karbonn and MicroMax have done for handphones.
Whatever the detail, by the time the monsoon rains come to India, I expect plenty of choice for even the price-conscious tablet buyer in the country, with reasonably sound features. Stand by for an exciting mix of 3G services and matching tablets.