London-based company Datawind surprised us by releasing a $35 tablet computer manufactured in India. That computer was for students in India. Now they’re bringing a $38 tablet computer (and two other models costing less than $150) to the US market.
The $35 version, called the Aakash, was subsidized by the Indian government to drop the price down from $50. The version Datawind will be selling in the US is the UbiSlate 7Ci tablet, a modified Aakash-2 which costs $38 (partially subsidized by advertisements in the web browser).
The UbiSlate 7Ci has a 1 GHz single-core processor (similar to 2010’s first-generation iPad), 512MB of RAM, 4 GB of storage (and an SD card slot), a 0.3 megapixel camera, and WiFi connectivity. It also has a SIM card slot so it can be used as a phone, and it runs on the Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. The 7-inch display only has 800 x 480 resolution, but, hey, it’s $38.
Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli told the Wall Street Journal their goal is to bring affordable access to the internet to people currently priced out of owning a computer. “The power of the Internet is frankly essential in taking societies to the next level, in equipping young people to be able to even make it in the work force. [...] We can’t afford to have people who grow up without the Internet.”
Fifteen percent of American adults don’t use the internet, with nineteen percent of them citing price as the reason. So, about 3% of American adults cited price as their reason for not using the internet, in other words. I still love this idea for reasons besides giving more people access. A $35 tablet can be used for a single function or thrown in a backpack like it’s no big deal or given to a kid to play with or even bundled with a digital magazine subscription.
Datawind has a long-term goal of dropping the price below $20. With cheap tablet computers like these, who would have to grow up without the internet and, by extension, all of those memes kids need to know to keep up in today’s fast-paced economy? Much savings. Such internet. Wow.