At a time when the tablet computer is the most coveted gadget in the world, India has scored a big hit at a small price tag. On Wednesday, it launched Aakash, the world’s cheapest tablet at Rs2,276 ($46) — a fraction of what the big brands cost (Rs9,900-32,000).
It’s not as powerful as your home PC. And it’s definitely not the cool, world-beating iPad. But Aakash still packs a punch and can do a lot of what the iPad does, perhaps in a slower, clunkier way.
The device, manufactured by UK-based Datawind, founded by NRI brothers Raja Singh Tuli and Suneet Singh Tuli, aims to revolutionise education and is set to be sold at a government-subsidised rate of Rs1,400 to 100,000 college students. Formally launching Aakash, HRD minister Kapil Sibal dubbed it a “device for the children of the world”.
General buyers can buy it for Rs3,000 while Datawind plans to sell the gadget in partnership with telecom operators with R99-per-month internet services.
The cost has shot up since Datawind bid $37.98 to build the computer that the government aimed for a $35 device based on a prototype developed by 170 students of IIT-Rajasthan and showcased last year.
The 7-inch touchscreen tablet comes with two full-sized USB ports, a random-access memory of 256 MB and a 366-megahertz processor.
It can connect to the internet through WiFi links, USB data or a SIM card where telecom operators are involved. Its battery can work for three hours in active mode without recharging. You can buy an external keyboard for Rs300.
Aakash, like many cheaper smartphones and tablet PCs hitting the market, is based on the Android platform developed by internet search firm Google, which has dramatically cut the software cost that makes up a big chunk of the bill. To this, the Tuli brothers have added refined component design and backed it up with low-cost manufacture in Hyderabad. How world's cheapest tablet computer was born
Suneet Singh Tuli told HT his device would trigger a price war. “We have the technology to manufacture the components of our device,” he said, explaining how Datawind drilled things to 800 parts to lower costs.
Vishal Tripathi, analyst at research firm Gartner, said, “The available lower-end tablets will face price pressures.”