The Aakash tablet will soon cost just $35 (Rs 1,900), Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal said recently. Speaking at a Reverse Buyer Seller Meet organised by the Telecom Equipment and Service Export Promotion Council, Sibal said that the Aakash tablet had all the amenities of any modern tablet and the cost would come down.

“Aakash is a tablet which at the moment costs USD 49. It will come down to USD 35 very soon. It has all the amenities of any modern tablet,” reports quoted him as saying. Speaking about the promised price drop, he added, “The capacitive (touch) screen is imported at a cost of USD 22 or around USD 20. The manufacturing cost is USD 2. If you were to set up that manufacturing unit in India, the cost will come down automatically from USD 49 to USD 29.”

Sibal stated that the government is in the process of obtaining Cabinet approval to manufacture 50 lakh units of the Aakash tablet in India and then float a global tender to begin its production. Sibal believes that production in such huge volumes should further drive the prices down.


Low-cost computing dream to get more affordable?

Interestingly, Sibal revealed that the next version of the tablet will boast of Skype. He noted that the Aakash tablet performs the same function as a $150 tablet would. He added that the tablet is the kind of thing the world needs, since most people cannot afford to buy a $150 tablet.

Quite contrary to what the have-nots have come to expect from the nation’s low-cost computing dream that is the Aakash 2, the Government recently told the Lok Sabha that students will not receive the initial 1 lakh units of the Aakash 2. Instead, the initial lot will be used for testing, and empowering teachers. What's more, there is currently no proposal to provide any of the initial units to students.

In a written statement to the Lok Sabha, Union Human Resource Development Minister, MM Pallam Raju, stated that there is currently no proposal to offer the initial units of the Aakash 2 to students. “Presently, there is no proposal in this regard… In the first phase one lakh tablets are for the purpose of testing and teacher empowerment. They would not be distributed to students in the first phase,” he said. Raju was asked whether the government planned to offer Aakash 2 tablets to students, especially those from poor backgrounds and rural areas, for free.

This development is expected to raise quite a few eyebrows, as it was widely believed the Aakash 2 would come to students first, just like its predecessor, the Aakash, aimed to.

The advanced version of the Aakash 2 was launched by President Pranab Mukherjee on the National Education Day on November 11, this year. The tablet has a 7-inch multi-touch capacitive projective display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, has a 1 GHz processor and supports HD video playback.

Recently, the Permanent Mission of India to United Nations, New York, hosted a special event to unveil and launch the Aakash 2 at the United Nations. Secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Ban Ki-moon was the Chief Guest at the event, which was attended by over 500 invitees, including 65 Ambassadors/PRs, media delegates, NGOs and select members of the Indian community. 

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