The Truth about $35 Android Tablet from Indian Government (Update)

Update, Oct 5, 2011: After 13 months of publishing this report, Indian government today released another tablet that is completely different from what was shown last year and turned out to be a Chinese product. Government learnt from its mistakes and went back to the drawing board and created a whole new tablet that was released today as Aakash (October 5, 2011).

The so called “$35 Android tablet of Indian government” is actually Chinese manufacturer Hivision’s Speedpad or PWS700HA, whatever you call it. The images of $35 Android tablet from Indian government with Hivision Speedpad below will clearly prove everything.

$35 Android tablet from Indian Government (Left) & Hivision Speedpad (Right) – Click to Enlarge

A little bit of history about the Hivision Speedpad now, the tablet was first seen at CeBIT 2010 and company said it would be priced somewhere around $100.
So, Indian government is actually showing off some Chinese company’s product as their home developed path-breaking innovation.  Let us just go once again through a part of press release that government published when they launched “so called $35 Tablet”.

The ministry started its efforts , subsequent to lukewarm response from known corporates in this sector, by holding discussions on this concept with a group of Professors / experts at IISc, Bangalore, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and IIT Bombay. B.Tech and M.Tech students were guided to produce the mother board for such low cost devices with ample flexibility to change components. One mother board design was generated under Ministry’s guidance in the B.Tech project of a student at VIT, Vellore. The cost of bill of material worked to 47 $ at that point of time. The PCB of the mother board was got fabricated at IIT Kanpur. It could be seen that by customising the device to the needs of learners across the country, and utilizing the processor capabilities of processors suitable for the purpose, it was possible to substantially reduce the prices of such access-cum-computing devices. Then started a wave of collaboration with such interested partners.

If government wanted to do something like this, why involve India’s top engineering colleges’ name in the whole thing. Why destroy their reputation. Government is just buying a tablet, which I am sure nobody else is buying, in bulk on a cheap rate and then subsidizing it to sell it for $35.
There are many questions now, which Indian government needs to answer. I hope to hear the truth from them in the coming days.

Update: We have contacted Hivision for their comments on the news and are awaiting a response from them.

We are also hearing that HCL, which was reportedly awarded contract for manufacturing the tablet, is actually only responsible for setting up infrastructure for testing the tablet.

Inspiration: Jaimon Joseph


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