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: Gift Guide: Strong photo, video gear options

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

Ear-check via phone can ease path to diagnosis

Dec 18, 2014

Ear infections are common in babies and young children. That it is a frequent reason for young children's visit to doctors comes as no consolation for the parents of babies tugging at their ears and crying ...

Gift Guide: Home products come with connectivity

Dec 18, 2014

Do you really need an app to tell you to brush and floss? It seems every household appliance is getting some smarts these days, meaning some connection to a phone app and the broader Internet. But then what?

BlackBerry launches Classic in last-ditch effort

Dec 17, 2014

(AP)—BlackBerry is returning to its roots with a new phone that features a traditional keyboard at a time when rival Apple and Android phones—and most smartphone customers—have embraced touch screens.

Tag Heuer changes tune, now looking at smartwatches

Dec 16, 2014

Barely a few months after dismissing Apple's smartwatch, the new chief executive of luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer conceded Tuesday that such a hi-tech gadget might after all have a place in his firm's ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.