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Aakash: World's Cheapest Tablet Launched; To Be Sold For $60 In Retail

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NEW DELHI: The wait for the world's cheapest tablet is finally over! The $35 tablet nicknamed Aakash was launched today and will be available at retail stores at a maximum retail price of Rs 2999 ($60), said its maker Datawind.

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"The Rs 3,000 figure is the 'maximum suggested retail price' of the commercial version of the product which we will offer with an embedded cellular modem and SIM," said Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind, maker of the world's cheapest tablet.

The $60 tablet for retail sales has an inbuilt cellular modem and SIM to access internet, which will be absent in the $35 device, supplied to the government.

As a business, we need to make a profit, and our distribution channel needs to make a profit, which is all covered in the MRP of Rs 2,999," Mr Tuli told ET.

Both versions of the tablet, will run on Google's Android platform, with WiFi connectivity for internet access and cloud storage. The tablets will have 256 MB of RAM, a 32 GB expandable memory slot and two USB ports.

The commercial version of the tablet would have no duty waivers or subsidy, as in the government's version. An inbuilt cellular modem and SIM card will add to the price of the commercial tablet.

The commercial version of the tablet, is expected be out within 60 days, of its launch on October 5.

Datawind adds that it is supplying to the government at a price of Rs 2200, which includes sales tax and replacement warranty. "The $35 price is achievable at higher volume levels. When we supply the product to the government at $35, then too it will allow us a margin, albeit at higher volumes," Datawind CEO added.

India trails fellow BRIC nations Brazil, Russia and China in the drive to get its 1.2 billion population connected to technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones, a report by risk analysis firm Maplecroft said this year.

The number of Internet users grew 15-fold between 2000 and 2010, according to another recent report. Still, just 8 percent of Indians have access. That compares with nearly 40 percent in China.

Some 19 million people subscribe to mobile phones every month, making India the world's fastest growing market, but most are from the wealthier segment of the population in towns.

Bharat Mehra, an expert on the use of communications technology for development, said the budget tablet could be used to deliver distance learning in rural areas and among students.

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And here is the photo of proud CEO of Datawind


In an exclusive interview with NDTV’s Gadget Guru, Mr Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO DataWind disclosed this that how this tablet could have been even cheaper, had they developed this from their China unit. He cited reasons like complicated tax structure, inter-state sales taxes, VAT and other such costs which got added to the manufacturing cost of Aakash for getting it developed from India unit. Moreover, they had to specially setup this new unit in Hyderabad for producing Aakash tablet computers even when they had running units capable of developing such tablet devices in China itself. Had they done this from China, then obviously costs would have been even lesser and hence the final selling price.

Have a look at ‘first look’ pictures of Aakash Tablet.

But then this extra price has to be paid to have this “Made in India” tag which also is quite significant. HRD ministry wanted Aakash to be launched with Made in India tag rather than anything else. This is what Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli quoted in his exclusive interview with NDTV’s Gadget Guru Rajiv Makhni;

“It would have been cheaper to produce the tablet in China, in our existing facility. Manufacturing in India is not easy because of the complicated tax structure, inter-state sales taxes, VAT and other associated costs. We set up a unit in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and also faced problems due to the Telengana agitations and so on. But it was important for this project to have the Made in India tag and despite hurdles we feel it’s been worth it.”

Check out the below Video of exclusive interview of Mr Tuli with NDTV to understand how Aakash – the World’s cheapest tablet, could come into existence with Made in India tag.

Exclusive Interview Video of Mr Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, DataWind with NDTV’s Gadget Guru

Edited by kdsingh80
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