In America, $35 dollars won’t even cover the sales tax on an iPad2. But in India, $35 dollars can get you the Aakash, or “sky,” the new tablet computer from developer Datawind.
The Aakash is the latest in a series of innovations made by Indian tech companies. India currently offers a $2,040 compact Nano car, a $15 water purifier and a $2,000 open-heart surgery. These alternatives are part of an effort made by the Indian government to provide its people with high-cost goods/services at low-cost prices. Datawind sells the tablets to the government for $45 and a subsidy reduces the consumer cost to a cool $35.
Kapil Sibal, the Human Resources Development Minister, is excited about the new tablet: “This is for all of you who are disempowered…this is for all those who live on the fringes of society.”
It’s hard to believe, but the $35 dollar price point actually lands on the high side. The ministry says that “people laughed, people called us lunatics” after a five-year effort to design a $10 computer. But the $35 dollar version provides a color screen, word processing, Web browsing, video conferencing, two USB ports and 256 megabytes of RAM.
Datawind CEO Sunseet Sing Tuli is embracing the revolutionary nature of his product. “The intent is to start a price war. Let it start.”