NEW DELHI—India on Wednesday unveiled a much-anticipated low-cost tablet computer it aims to be sold to students for about 1,750 rupees, or roughly $35, as the government seeks to harness the Internet as a tool to spread education in the country.
The 7-inch, touch-screen tablet, named Aakash, is designed and manufactured by Canada’s DataWind Ltd. in partnership with the Indian government, and has been touted as the cheapest in the world. The Wi-Fi-enabled tablet, powered by Google Inc.’s Android operating system, has up to 32 gigabytes of storage and two USB ports. The device will be made available off the shelf at 2,999 rupees ($61) with additional features, DataWind said in a statement. “The poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide,” said Kapil Sibal, India’s minister for communications and information technology. Mr. Sibal called on technology companies to come together to work on creating a tablet computer priced below $10.
He said the government will explore the possibility of state-run telecommunications-equipment maker ITI Ltd. manufacturing the Aakash tablet locally. India’s tablet market is already crowded with a host of local players bringing in low-cost versions of the device to take on products such as Apple Inc.’s iPad and Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Tab. According to market-research firm IDC, Apple already holds more than a 60% share of the country’s tablet market, while Samsung controls nearly 25%. Wednesday’s launch follows the government’s efforts to connect educational institutions across the country through high-speed Wi-Fi networks and to offer online course content free. About 1,000 institutions in India already are connected with high-speed Wi-Fi networks, Mr. Sibal said.
Would be nice if the US government cared enough about the poor to give it’s poor citizens the same thing. India also has a $2000 compact car.