100,000 Aakash tablets delivered: DataWind

Nandagopal Rajan        Last Updated: May 3, 2013  | 20:52 IST

Announcing the completion of the delivery of 100,000 low-cost Aakash tablets to IIT-Bombay, DataWind on Friday suggested that the next version of the low-cost computing devices must have inbuilt modems to provide easy Internet access. The company said as part of the units delivered to IIT-Bombay were 2,000 UbiSlate 7C+ tablets, which it claims has the ideal specs for the Rs 2,500 price bracket being explored by the government.

"Real value for the next version will come not with better specs, but with Internet access," DataWind founder Suneet Singh Tuli said. His UbiSlate 7C+ comes with internal cellular modem to give voice as well as data access while using the company's patented web delivery technologies to provide better web experience.

"Our technology will pre-render the pages load it much faster so that even someone with just a basic GPRS SIM can have a reasonable Internet experience," he said, adding that this will however not work for audio-video streaming. Tuli said he was trying to tie up with operators to provide this basic Internet access free, with the cost taken care of by ad revenues.

The Android Ice-Cream Sandwich UbiSlate 7C+ comes with a TFT capacitive touch panel and will run of a 1Ghz Cortex A8 processor with 512MB RAM. With 4GB internal memory and three hours of battery life, Tuli is confident it will be "good enough and economic enough for a billion Indians". The standout feature is the Quad-band Edge with embedded cellular modem which makes it similar in capabilities to a smartphone. The commercial price of the product is Rs 4,999, again the cheapest anywhere in the world for these specs.

Clearing the air on delivery of earlier versions of the UbiSlate which had received tremendous response from the Indian market, he said the entire backlog of pre-paid customers has now been cleared. "There is 1 per cent left, but these are addresses we are unable to deliver to or authenticate," he said.

Over a year back, UbiSlate, the commercial version of the Aakash 1, had got around 40 lakh bookings. "We are now going back to these people to check if they still want to buy the tablet. However, almost everyone who paid an advance have not got the product," Tuli said, adding that DataWind was now shipping up to 3,000 tablets a day from its four assembly facilities in India. "Fresh orders are now shipping out of the warehouses within 72 hours."

The production, however, is not completely indigenous and is a hybrid with parts manufactured in India, China and Canada. "It was our idea to manufacture Aakash within India and it has taken much longer and proved a lot tougher than we ever imagined," he said, adding that they have been able to deliver five times more commercial units in the same time frame.

Claiming that he has delivered the order over a month before the contract deadline expires in June, Tuli said he has contested IIT-Bombay's move to impose a 0.5 per cent penalty on units delivered after March 31, 2013.

Tuli said access to Internet would really revolutionise education in India as it would open up the world's largest library to millions to children who don't even get to see a teacher regularly in their schools.


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