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$35 Android Tablet, Aakash, Launches in India

Tablets expected to become “new battleground” in this emerging market. Will $10 tablet be next?

India claims to have launched the world's cheapest tablet computer, priced at $35 for students and $60 for retail. The Aakash computer runs Android 2.2 (Froyo), has a 7-inch touch screen, 256MB of RAM, 32GB expandable memory slot, two USB ports, and weighs in at only 350 grams, according to the Times of India. A pilot run with 100,000 units provided to students will test the practicality of the tablet's two- to three-hour battery life.

The first tablet computer was launched in India almost a year ago, and CyberMedia Research expects tablets to become the “new battleground” in India. The Canada-based company behind the Aakash tablet, DataWind, is also behind the Pocketsurfer3 hand-held web-browsing device, which the company claims can download web pages faster than any other hand-held device on any network with full graphics and Java support. DataWind says the commercial version of the Aakash, which will be released next month, will offer additional features, including mobile connection. The company tested the new tablet for India's climate conditions, with video running for two hours in 118 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures, according to Reuters. “Initial reactions to the Aakash were mixed, with the mainly middle-class technology department students at the event saying it needed refinement but was a good option for the poor,” the Times of India says.

Aakash units will be produced in India, and DataWind already has plans for a $10 tablet. "We need to have more local components. And with the production expansion that we plan, we believe that Indian component manufacturers would soon see the opportunity, thus reducing our prices," DataWind chief executive told India Today. Aakash units are built with parts from South Korea, China, the U.S., India, and other countries.

Meanwhile, Google expects Internet users to triple by 2014. High-speed wireless infrastructure, lower-prices on smartphones, and inexpensive tablets may help Google's forecast of 300-million Internet users, up from the current 100 million, become a reality. According to the Wall Street Journal report, India is already the third-largest Internet market by users, behind China and the United States; however, only 8 percent of Indians have Internet access, compared to almost 40 percent in China.

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