Thu, Jan 05, 2012 - Page 10 News List

World’s cheapest tablet PC in India draws 1.4m orders

AFP, New Delhi

The world’s cheapest tablet computer has clocked 1.4 million bookings since it was put up for sale online two weeks ago in India, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Bookings for the long-awaited Aakash, pegged at 2,500 rupees (US$41), began on Dec. 14, two months after it was unveiled as the “computer for the masses” in India, where millions struggle to fund their education.

Datawind, the British company contracted by the Indian government to manufacture Aakash, said it had been taken by surprise by the response in India, where Apple’s iPad computers costs a minimum of US$600.

STRONG RESPONSE

“The current response is overwhelming,” a spokeswoman at the company’s New Delhi PR agency said in an e-mail that detailed the number of bookings made so far.

Datawind is now taking orders for an upgraded version, called Ubislate 7, for March, and it will establish three new factories this year to cope with the rush of orders.

“We plan to produce 75,000 units per factory per month from around April,” the spokeswoman said.

The Economic Times in its online edition said the manufacturers had run out of stock of Aakash, which has a 7 inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi Internet function, a multimedia player and 180 minutes of battery power.

SETTING A NEW BAR

The business daily said with about 400,000 pre-sales bookings for the Aakash, sales of the device were more than sales for the entire Indian tablet market last year, which numbered about 250,000 to 300,000 units.

The stylish, locally made Aakash uses an Android 2.2 operating system and has an external 2 gigabyte (GB) storage card and two USB ports.

Critics had warned the device might struggle to live up to expectations with its limited 256MB random access memory.

The price of what has been dubbed “the world’s cheapest computer” should fall to US$35 and could even be hammered down as low as US$10, Datawind has said.

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