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.