Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blue Sky Thinking - Aakash Tablet

Aakash an Android-based tablet designed and developed by DataWind has been unveiled by the Indian government as a low cost but full functioning device in order to attempt to bridge the digital divide.

Manufactured in India, Aakash is primarily to serve as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, and web content. The actual price of Akash tablet is 2250 ($45), but Govt will be subsidizing the student tablets and provide it at rate of  1750 ($35)
Now I hear a lot of head shaking by naysayers who point out the "unworthy" hardware specs, the lack of access to the open Android App marketplace for now, no ability to access GPRS/3G Internet, etc. The point being missed out is 2
  1. Strength of the specs is relative to the audience the device is intended for - If the device has been intended as a entry level tablet for millions of not so well to do Indian students with an attempt to allow them access to the world's digital knowledge at their fingertips at a fraction of the cost of what other market devices are priced at, then it is an objective very well met.
  2. There is always a first; copycats with all kinds of features and add-ons will follow suite - A ground  breaking device like Aakash (it has broken ground not on the technology front, but on the social front) will always have hiccups before field usage data regarding the tablet will flow back into the industry for other players to improve and enter the low cost market. And what better market to test such a device than India?

 What do you think? Is Aakash a worthwhile attempt?

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