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The $30 tablet is here. But you can’t have one—yet.

What will the Internet look like when 6 billion people can connect to it?


 

The Aakash is a pretty crappy tablet computer.  Made in India, the Android gadget’s touchscreen is small, with no multitouch functionality. Its battery only lasts for a few hours, its processor is fairly slow, it has no camera, and though it has WiFi, you’ll need a USB dongle to connect to the mobile Internet when away from wireless broadband. Compared to the iPad, the Aakash is a piece of junk—except for the one stat where it blows Apple completely out of the water: price.

The Aakash costs $37.98 to manufacture. Ten thousand units are currently in the hands of Indian students. Thanks to a government subsidy, they cost $30 each. A retail version of the Aakash is expected soon, with 90,000 units shipping to Indian stores bearing a sticker price of $50 to $60. There’s no word on a North American release just yet.

Here’s a short video report on the Aakash from NDTV:

This is a pretty big deal.

The early promise of the tablet computer—a “magical” device that would transform society (and maybe save the publishing industry) remains unrealized. By selling around 25 million iPads, Apple may have realized its shareholders’ dreams, but the greater dream—that the tablet computer would “change the world“—is still just a dream.

The Aakash could change that.  Or rather, it could be the start of that change. By proving that a $50 tablet is possible, the device sets a new standard in affordable access. And affordability is the killer app, at least when it comes to global transformation.

Twenty-five million iPad owners sounds like a lot, until you consider that there are 5 billion active cell phone subscriptions in the world. Cell phones, unlike tablets, laptops, and smartphones, have become so cheap that they are owned by even the poorest people on the planet. But the technological limitation of these devices means that most subscribers are chatting and texting on a one-to-one basis. By contrast, there are around 2 billion people who can communicate through the Internet.

The Aakash, and the dozens of dirt-cheap Android tablets that will follow it, will do much to connect the remaining billions. Imagine the rate of online innovation when the Internet’s population triples? Imagine the impact on the written word when the market cap on tablet readers explodes from 25 million to a billion or more?

Now that would be magical.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown


 
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The $30 tablet is here. But you can’t have one—yet.

  1. And education is vital for a country….India is looking at 8% growth this year.

  2. I give it two years, tops, before Apple’s primary advantage — the number of apps available — is completely eclipsed by what’s available for the Android.   It’s gonna be Betamax vs. VHS all over again, with Apple playing the part of Betamax

  3. Steve Jobs must be rolling over in his grave. 

    Apple hanging onto that $76 billion and not paying a divy makes sense now.

  4. Hi, I just happened to google your  review. It’s a ‘crap’, it’s touch screen is small, it needs a datacard to connect when we are away from Wifi. Just tell me if you are away from ‘wifi’ you need a sim or datacard to connect isn’t it?. It’s touch screen is small, what that small means?, I read it’s 7”. Though it’s board is ‘made in India’ I think touch screen is from Korea, a few parts from China and so on. How can you Compare Ipad with a 30$ tablet?

    • Because of the last three words of your post.

  5. Its a gr8 device that can perform all the functions of a computer, It had inbuilt SIM slot to access Internet anywhere, Big 7 inches display, 256 mb RAM, enuf to do all that a student wants to do.
    It can also play HD videos, what else u want at just $30

  6. where we get aakash tablet…

  7. The primary motive of developing Aakash is to upgrade Indian Education System thats why govt. is giving susidy over it and first 10,000 units are given to students only. They will reveiw this tablet and will submit their feedback. After that more innovations and upgrades will take place. We cant compare this device with I-PAD as it has no logic..It will like comparing Chery QQ with Benz.  

  8. Well i would say its still a very good. I mean what else can u expect for just $30? 

  9. jesse brown…..what kind of reviewer are u….cpmparing a $30 tablet with apple i-pad…..this i-pad is meant for thosa students in india…who cant afford costly comp,lappy’s etc…..and in such a cheap price …i think its perfect..!!

  10. what a person you are…u are a moron…. comparing this tablet with ipad

  11. I think a majority of the comments so far miss the point of the article. My understanding is that Jesse is identifing the broader trend that may be born out of the development of the Aakash. It’s smart companies that are focused on broadening the potential market than compete for the existing market. An example of this can be found in Nintendo Wii, instead of competing for traditional gamers, they broadened the market itself to include the whole family. Similarly, Aakash (albiet with government help) will be targeting those who presently do not make up the market of tablet buyers due to income.

  12. where to buy Aakash tablet

  13. front camera nehi hey kya a tablet me please give me answer

  14. Yes, Akash is a piece of junk compared to the iPad. By the way, a toy BB gun is a pretty crappy compared to India’s new missile that travels at Mach 7.5. The missile is also more expensive. Your point?

  15. Every time India launches a hypersonic missile or a moon probe, we have western wiseacres telling us to focus on the lot of Indian common man. When we make a device for the masses, the same wiseacres tell us it is “too crappy”. 

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