In July 2010, I wrote about a cheap tablet that India is developing in a public-private partnership . There was a lot of skepticism floating around how and when these will become available. Now it is here – The Aakash to be made available for about 45 USD. Four bits I found really intersting after watching the webcast , I really found this interesting:
1. This is without doubt the world’s cheapest tablet. It will cost Rs. 2250 (45 USD) to students. There are no subsidies as everyone expected. For one, the government was smart in not providing subsidies at that price point. Also, that gives the manufacturer clear cash flows from sales, without government intervention, as it should be in a free market.
2. It is being manufactured in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, and not assembled in China or Taiwan as most thought it would be. This move ensures control over manufacturing and jobs for Indians. Goes to show we can do hardware manufacture and not just software if we put our minds to it.
3. This is the first device designed in India with a specific purpose in mind – to provide a quantum leap in the quality of education provided to millions of children, and bridge the growing digital divide. This could be a big blow to illiteracy in India. I see huge potential in this device, and would love to explore creating content and applications for the device.
4. Kapil Sibal mentions " the tablet is a highway and we need something on that highway" – he was pointing to content, an opportunity of unimaginable proportions.
They are planning an initial production run of 100,000 units; if those are successful, and content providers jump in, we are going to need a few hundred million more.
What are you thinking? Please comment.