Low-cost Aakash tablet from India not living up to its billing


Touted as a low-cost technology for even the world's poorest people, the $50 price tag attached to a highly publicized Indian mobile tablet doesn't appear to be enough to make it a success. According to media reports, India's Aakash is struggling to make headway with its tablet venture.

The New York Times reported on Dec. 29 that DataWind, the London-based company run by Indian-born entrepreneurs that won the contract to build the devices, is "deeply in the red" based on financial statements filed with British regulators. In addition, the newspaper said DataWind would not even come close to meeting a year-end deadline for shipping 100,000 tablets promised to India's colleges and universities. Making matters still worse, despite DataWind's' pledge to manufacture the tablets in India, most of the 10,000 or so tablets delivered through early December were made in China.

Consequently, according to experts quoted in the Times article, the project's "entire premise —that India can make a cheap tablet computer that will somehow make up for failures of the country's crippled education system — is fundamentally flawed."

A Dec. 20 Tech2 article says the government of India's ambitious Aakash project to provide low cost Android-powered tablets to Indian students has "been embroiled in controversy right from the word go." The article details a litany of Aakash's snafus including the fact that the original Aakash version 1.0 had a slew of outdated specs, a gigantic number of pre-orders (over 3 million which haven't yet been delivered), and faulty shipped devices, among other problems.

Nevertheless, despite Aakash's troubles, the Times of India reported Jan. 7 that the Indian government is looking to create a software ecosystem to continuously release applications for Aakash, primarily related to learning and education. According to the article, approximately 25 academic institutions and private companies in India have signed up to build Aakash apps, with plans to double that number by March.

For more:
-read the New York Times article
-read the Times of India article
-read the Tech2 article

Related Article:
India tries again for low-cost tablet

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