India to launch $45 tablet computer

Oct 04, 2011 by Pratap Chakravarty
Indian customers visit the computer section at the Croma electronics mega-store in Mumbai in September 2011. India is set Wednesday to launch its long-awaited low-cost computer, a $45 tablet device designed to bring the information technology revolution to tens of millions of students.

India is set Wednesday to launch its long-awaited low-cost computer, a $45 tablet device designed to bring the information technology revolution to tens of millions of students.

The touchscreen computer has a seven-inch (18-centimetre) screen, Wi-Fi Internet access, a media player and 180 minutes of , according to official specifications.

Update: India launches 'world's cheapest' tablet computer

Called the "Akash" ("Sky"), the locally-made device will be launched in New Delhi by Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal after years of delays.

"It will cost 2,200 rupees ($45) and the first batch of 500 tablets will be handed over to students after the release," ministry spokeswoman Mamata Varma told AFP.

"Initially, 700 Akash tablets will be made every day and we expect the production to pick up when more companies join in to manufacture the device," she said.

The commercial marketing strategy for the Akash remains unclear, but most of the computers are likely to be sold through universities and colleges rather than shops.

Canada-based Datawind, the current manufacturer, said the tablet used an Android 2.2 operating system, had video-conferencing capability, two USB ports and a 32GB expandable memory.

But experts warned its 256-megabyte (RAM) would limit performance.

Commercial manufacturers are hoping Indian customers will leapfrog personal computers to buy tablets, as millions did by buying instead of waiting for a landline.

Apple's internationally-popular iPad computers costs a minimum of $600 in , with competitor Reliance Communications selling a rival tablet device at about $290.

The Akash is part of a push to increase the number of students in higher education and to give them the technological skills needed to further boost the country's recent .

India, where the 61 percent literacy rate lags far behind many other developing nations such as China with 92 percent, is making major efforts to improve its education system.

The government had promised to release the first 100,000 Akash computers by January 2011, but uncertainty over the level of government subsidy is thought to have delayed mass production.

The much-hyped "computer for the masses" was said to be on the brink of release in both 2005 and 2009 -- only for it never to materialise.

Industry observers say rising labour charges, cheap imports, and more sophisticated tablets could undermine the Akash among India's tech-savvy youngsters.

Explore further: Chairless Chair solution offered as leg exoskeleton for work

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

India develops 35-dollar 'laptop' for schools

Jul 23, 2010

India has come up with a 35-dollar touch-screen "laptop" -- a computing prototype that it aims to make available to students from elementary schools to universities.

Apple's iPad to remain top tablet in 2015: Gartner

Apr 11, 2011

The tablet computer market is heating up with new entrants all the time, but Apple's iPad will remain the top device over the next few years, according to technology research company Gartner.

Dell to roll out second tablet computer

Sep 22, 2010

Dell chief executive Michael Dell on Wednesday said the firm will release a second tablet computer to compete in a hot market dominated by Apple's iPad.

Recommended for you

Giant tablets aimed at families

Aug 20, 2014

Costing a little more than an iPad but standing more than twice as tall, a new pair of giant tablets wants families to share cozier group experiences with technology.

Myo armband and smartglasses set for deskless workplace

Aug 20, 2014

Thalmic Labs, Canada-based makers of the Myo armband, has announced the integration of Myo with smartglasses, with the partnership help of a number of companies pairing the Myo with their products. The gesture-control ...

Sharp Aquos Crystal phone: Where's the bezel?

Aug 18, 2014

Just when you thought a fashionable gadget must be somewhat thin, Sharp is going to charm the smartphone fashion-conscious with a crazily thin phone, and it is arriving in the US quite soon. Gorgeous. Cool. ...

User comments : 0