35$ tablet launched in India: War for the Cheapest tablet intensifies
The world’s cheapest tablet was unveiled today and will go on sale in India this December retailing at 35$. This particular model, however, is aimed particularly at students, and is the result of collaboration between the government and IIT Rajasthan. The tablet will be manufactured by Datawind, a UK-based company that is known for manufacturing the Pocketsurfer, a hand-held device to surf the web.
The tablet actually costs around 3,000 INR to manufacture, but the price difference will be paid by the government as part of an ambitious plan to make information and communication technologies an integral part of education. The tablet will run on Google’s Android platform, have WiFi capability for Internet access and cloud storage. It will have 256 MB of RAM, a 2GB SD memory card, a 32 GB expandable memory slot and two USB ports.
As far as the mass market is concerned the current cheapest one is the Beetel Magiq which retails at 8,999 INR currently. We also hear that a Hong Kong based tablet manufacturer (Iberry) plans to topple this by launching a 7 inch version set to be priced at 6,999 INR. Of course, there are other low-cost Android tablets as well such as Mercury’s mTab (Rs 9,499), Reliance (Rs 12,999) and MSI Energy’s 7 and 10 (Rs 13,999 and Rs 14,999 respectively).
According to CyberMedia Research (CMR) nearly 158,000 tablet computers were sold in the country in the nine months up to June 30, with Samsung leading the market followed by an unlikely BlackBerry pushing Apple to a not so enviable third spot. According to CMR analysts India should see shipments rise to 275,000 units by the end of calendar year 2011, at which point of time there will be an estimated 35 vendors selling as many as 90 models.
I believe that the launch of low cost tablets bundled with affordable data services on 3G and BWA networks can be expected to give a fillip to India Tablet shipments in 2012 and beyond. With their competitive prices, the new rivals have opened a whole new mass-market in India. The $35 computer, if it takes off, will serve to reinforce that trend.