Akash Delayed Further As IIT-R, Datawind Clash

The Akash miracle tablet has been in the news ever since it was in its infancy as an ultra-cheap-laptop. It then evolved into an ultra-cheap-tablet. Since months we have been hearing about it hitting the Indian markets, followed by a streamlined, upgraded successor. However, the fact remains that production is still so abysmally low that most pre-orders have not even been fulfilled.  Now, we know why the delays have been occurring and why there are probably going to continue to be future delays.

IIT-Rajasthan and Datawind, two of the forces behind the Akash Tablet, are having several disagreements. These are over the specs, quality of tablets and over the payments. Datawind has supplied IIT-R with 10,000 Akash tablets. Out of these, IIT-R have rejected 3000 of them due to Bad Screen Panels and Slow Performance. Also, they haven’t confirmed in writing that they have received the tablets from Datawind. This means Datawind is yet to get paid.

An IIT-R official confirmed that they had written a letter to the HRD Ministry citing slow processor speed, screen quality and battery power of the Datawind units. Due to non-payment, Datawind have refused to produce any more units saying that they have not been clearly told the expected specs.

Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli said,”We have taken a straight loss of about 3,000 units. Besides, payments for the supplied 10,000 units are still due. We can’t supply further unless we get revised test criterion,”

IIT Rajashthan seems to expect the Akash to be Water Proof and Shock Proof and yet remain at the $35 price point; something that Datawind says is not financially possible. While the original Akash hasn’t met its obligations to the public and educational institutions, the HRD Ministry already has plans for an Akash 2. Rumored to sport a 1 GHz Processor with a Capacitive Touch, things which the original Akash lacked. They will soon begin inviting tenders for the same. We can’t help but take the Akash 2 with a pinch of salt. Given just how long even the original tablet is taking to hit the market, by the time any successor comes, the market would be way way ahead of it and offer better low end alternatives.

Is the Akash an opportunity lost or can it still revolutionize the Indian Tablet Market? Do let us know in the comments below.


3 Responses to “Akash Delayed Further As IIT-R, Datawind Clash”

  1. Anant
    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Aakash has the potential to revolutionize the Indian tablet market. I would like to share the following aspects with all of you which will help us appreciate the fact that this tablet is what is required to add the next billion internet users in the world and bridge the digital divide in India.

    There are more than 800 million mobile phone users in India who are too poor to afford a laptop. This tablet is for them. It’s price level makes it affordable to even a rickshaw puller, most of whom today own mobile handsets. The benefits of this product to the disadvantaged section of the society are many. This is that section which is and will remain backward unless provided with such affordable technologies that have become a necessity today. The device has an inbuilt educational ecosystem developed according to the school and college curricula. The company has launched a contest by the name “aapkiapp” to encourage students to send in their ideas regarding the apps they would want to be included in the device for which they shall be rewarded. So the aim is to develop our population as a resorce. We all agree that in today’s world, education is the key to unlock one’s potential for growth and this tablet is a step towards that.

    Another remarkable aspect of Datawind’s venture is that they are going to manufacture the tablet in India. Infact their CEO Mr. Suneet Tuli has requested the Government of India to include the “made in India” clause in the next tender that it floats. The advantage to India is that it will help develop India’s manufacturing sector. If we look at China, their growth is driven by the manufacturing sector. Instead of importing cheap Chinese technology, we should focus on developing indigenous potential to develop low cost socially relevant technologies. The benefit arising out of it can be well appreciated by all.

    Regarding the nature of the first version of the product, Datawind’s CEO has made it clear that the Government had given specifications for the product in the tender; according to it, and above those specifications, they created a product and delivered on it. They had government-recognized national labs, and international labs test the product and confirm its quality. They also recognized that the product would not meet everybody’s needs and may not be the optimal product; for that reason, they created a product road map. Any technology grows in phases and the Ubislate 7 ( popularly known as Aakash) is the first step in the evolution of the Indian low cost tablet. IIT Rajashthan’s demans that Aakash to be water proof and shock proof and yet remain at the $35 price point is a clear indication of the bureaucratic hurdles any novel technology has to face in India. These specifications are not even met by my laptop worth Rs 50,000 so how do we expect such features in this Rs 3,000 tablet!

    Let us have realistic expectations and supprt the cause of developing low cost technologies for the masses.

  2. hemanth
    January 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    i am waiting for u darling(akash)

  3. samrath
    January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    for what does IIT rajasthan want the tablet to be water proof and shock proof??? they seem to have lost it!

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