India is one of the champions of making cheap stuff. Tata's Nano, the world's cheapest car, is now dethroned by Aakash, one of the cheapest Android tablets. India created quite a buzz with the launch of $35 Android tablet which had the backing of the Indian government.
The HRD minister of India Kapil Sibal is now aiming at $10 tablet. The minister has reportedly invited companies to make a cheaper Android tablet. With low income a majority of Indians can't buy expensive $500 tablets, thus being left behind. Given India's next to chaotic power outage situation where you don't even get electricity for 24 hours a day, a tablet may keep users well connected.
India is already the world's second largest market for mobile phones, and arrival of cheap tablets may make it the largest market for tablets.
Can a tablet solve India's problems?
India is however far behind China when it comes to Internet users. China Internet population was more than 348 million in 2010, while India's Internet population is significantly smaller, only 65 million in 2011.
One of the biggest drawbacks in India is languages. Most websites are in English which is not read or understood by a majority of users. In China, most websites are in Chinese. There people respect and prefer their own languages which brings every member of the society to the Internet. All Chinese websites are in Chinese. On the contrary none of the Indian websites are in Hindi including the sites of companies like Tata.
A tablet is just a medium to access the content. How do you expect a farmer to use the tablet and learn more about agriculture when the website of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is in English.
However, these cheap tablets will definitely bring more users to the Internet. With more users, websites may be compelled to create a Hindi version or these users will start replacing their own language with a foreign language.
Aakash is not made in India
Another Irony with this tablet is that it is not using local components. India missed the bus as it continued to delay its semiconductor policy and all manufacturing moved to other Asian countries. Most of the components of this tablet come from other Asian countries. So, the Indian electronics industry is not benefiting from this tablet.
OS: Android 2.2
Processor: Connexant with Graphics accelerator and HD Video processor
Memory (RAM): 256MB RAM / Storage (Internal): 2GB Flash
Storage (External): 2GB to 32GB Supported
Peripherals (USB2.0 ports, number): 1 Standard USB port
Audio out: 3.5mm jack / Audio in: 3.5mm jack
Display and Resolution: 7” display with 800x480 pixel resolution
Input Devices: Resistive touch screen
Connectivity and Networking: GPRS and WiFi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g
Power and Battery: Up to 180 minutes (2-3 hours)on battery.
Looking at these specs, especially the battery life, this tablet is no match to the cheapest tablet in the branded market, which is Amazon's Kindle Fire. But then you can buy 6 tablets at the price of one Kindle Fire.
The $35 price point is ideal for India as it brings it within the reach of middle class which can't waste $500 on a 'can't-do-everything' toy. If India succeeds in bringing the cost down to $10, it will be nothing short of tablet revolution in the country where you will be able to see tablets everywhere.
A case scenario, you walk into a tiny Dhaba and the waiter, in his rugged cloths, will come to you to get your order and you can see him taking your order on the tablet using some app!
So, what do you want, Chicken Curry or Vindaloo!