While North Americans ponder whether to spend $199 for a Kindle Fire or $499 for the least expensive iPad, the children in this photo will soon have access to a tiny computer that promises to change their world. The world’s cheapest tablet computer is about to hit the market.
Indians will no doubt be lining up to buy the Aakash (“sky” in Hindi). At $45 for government users and $35 for students, the tablet is low cost, high power.
India’s Ministry of Human Resource and Development funded development of the tablet and is subsidizing it for institutions. It comes with WiFi and Bluetooth, has 2 USB ports and uses Google’s Android system.
UK-based Datawind won the bid to develop the 7-inch tablet. Components were sourced globally and assembled in India. Commercial users will pay just over $60. Unlimited Internet access will be available for $2 per month.
The Aakash is intended to enable rural India to benefit from the country’s technological boom. Since the tablet will be subjected to conditions that are challenging for electronics, the Aakash will come with a warranty covering replacement rather than repair.
In an interview with The Economic Times, Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli said the company is partnering with Spring to bring the tablet to U.S. customers. Vodafone is also working with the company to supply its global customers, and Thailand will be meeting with the company soon. Tuli added, “A child today needs an affordable computer. Plugging a 300 keyboard in this device makes it work like a computer.”
To see the tablet in action, check out this video from NDTV.
A number of people have written to ask where they can buy these tablet computers. They are available via the Aakash Web site, but the demand is so great there may be a wait.
The CEO of Datawind, Suneet Tuli, is interviewed in the video below, posted November 27, 2012.