Aakash 2; meant to reach the ground and yet touch the sky
“Are they lacking electricity? “Of course not–if you’ve got a cell phone, you’ve got some way of charging it. Are they lacking networks? No. If you’ve got a cell phone, you’ve got some way of being connected to it. So what is really left? What is left is affordability. A computer costs three or four hundred bucks, and a cell phone costs thirty or forty bucks. But what happens if a basic computing device that’s reasonably usable gets down to that price point?”- Says Suneet Singh Tuli to Christopher Mims of Quartz in an interview.
According to the CEO of Datawind there are 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions for 7 billion people on the earth. The reason for only 2 billion connected to the Internet is that people do not have affordable devices to connect to the information highway connecting the world. While the Indian Government is aimed at making a low cost computer (tablet) available to children in India for education under the Sakshat scheme, Datawind is aiming a higher sky.
Datawind with an affordable and decent tablet wants to give opportunity to millions who are not connected to the Internet. A look at the cost of the tablet will tell you that the tablet is priced at a price point where you get good feature phones in India. A good tablet with the Android Icecream sandwich operating system comes at a minimum price of Rs 5000. So, you can very well imagine the kind of competition the Aakash 2 is creating in the tablet market. Even the commercial version of the Aakash 2, the UbiSlate 7Ci is about Rs 4499. Read out story Here’s where the information is.
Tuli realizes the competition. In his conversation he mentions “There’s 50 guys in China right now setting up fabs to make [LCD touch panels like Datawind's]. In the next six to nine months they’re going to come online. And the moment they start coming online, pricing is going to tank. What’s going to happen is that those disruptive business models are going to change things for everybody. A sub-$50 retail price point in the next six months in the US is very practical for a product that, if you think of horsepower, has as much or more than the original iPad.”
Tuli is correct as with the tablet the first part of the need is met. The other part- which now includes teachers training and support services, infrastructural facilities for taking it to the children and implementing the project is still to be achieved. Read our story on Will Aakash be able to do what it is meant for?
Aakash 2 is not without controversy though. The first version had received huge criticism. The second version however has been praised for its decent specifications, but was called ‘made in China’ by many. According to an infographic published in Trak, the current version is only conceived, assembled and programmed in India, while the motherboard kitting was done in Chine. The next Aakash which will come in 2013 will be completely manufactured in India with components which will be procured globally.