India launches $38 tablet computer. Look out iPad!

The Aakash is for the masses; aimed at starting a tablet price war

aakash announcement/reuters
India really does want a tablet computer in every home and on every student's desktop.  Country officials today rolled out their subsidized Aakash tablet, aimed mostly at students and government workers.

The device, made by DataWind, a Canadian wireless Web access products maker will sell for about s $38, runs the Android operating system and features  a 7-inch display with 800-by-480 resolution, 256MB of RAM, 2GB flash storage, and a Connexant 366MHz processor.

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According to the BBC, India's Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal handed out 500 Aakash (meaning sky in Hindi) tablets to students who will trial them. He said the government planned to buy 100,000 of the tablets. It hopes to distribute 10 million of the devices to students over the next few years. "The rich have access to the digital world, the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide," Sibal said.

The BBC story noted to that the Indian ministry had been criticized in the past for talking up a low-cost laptop for the masses that never materialized.

According to the IDG News Service, DataWind plans to market the product in a number of emerging markets, and also commercially in India in November where the price will be about $60 with added GPRS (general packet radio service) capability, which will allow it to double as a phone. Higher-end versions of the product will also be launched in less price-sensitive markets like the U.K. and the U.S.

A CBS report added: Both Sibal and Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli called for competition to improve the product and drive prices down further. "The intent is to start a price war. Let it start," Tuli said, inviting others to do the job better and break technological ground - while still making a commercially viable product.

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