We have been following India’s $35 tablet story since the time we broke it on July 22nd last year. The much talked about tablet was supposed be launched earlier this year in Jan/Feb. However, the first tender was cancelled in Jan due to various issues.
This $35 tablet is news again and it now seems to be very near to being a reality. On a personal level, I have been quite sceptical, specifically with the pricing and I have mentioned many times earlier on this blog that the price point of $35 is extremely difficult to achieve.
We tried to dig out more information on this latest news and from what we have learned from our sources, it is really on its way of being launched sooner than later.
However, there are some mis-conceptions about this $35 tablet, and we decided that we will put the facts (the ones we know of) across to our readers.
New Tendering for $35 tablet
First off, it is IIT Rajasthan that has placed the tender (not MHRD themselves) for procuring first batch of 100,000 tablets and the project has been backed & funded by MHRD’s National Mission on Education through ICT (NME-ICT). The previous tender was cancelled and new tender was out couple of months back.
An undisclosed vendor (Unfortunately, we could not get the name) has won the tender and will be providing these tablets to IIT Rajasthan.
New Pricing for the $35 Tablet – (USD 48 or Rs. 2200/-)
Although, we call it “The $35 Tablet”, the name that this tablet has been christened with is “Sakshat”, which basically is the name of ambitious project by NME-ICT for spreading education amongst the masses.
The actual Landing Cost (commercially arrived at price) of this Tablet to IIT Rajasthan is about Rs. 2200 or USD 48.
Now, the landed cost means it includes everything – transportation, handling, taxes (if any) & others. If you have read our previous articles, I have mentioned clearly that even if you take pricing of individual components of a tablet the lowest pricing possible is in the range of USD 48 to USD 50 and this tablet comes nearly at that cost.
The initial Tender is a pilot for 100,000 Tablets and 10,000 of them will be provided to IIT Rajasthan as early as start of July. IIT Rajasthan actually plans to come out with a new tender for 1 million tablets in next 2-3 months and expects that prices will lower that this existing batch.
Cost to Students (Subsidized or not?)
It is not really a direct subsidy which MHRD is offering on these tablets. But there are various existing provisions under which these Govt. institutions (IITs & IIMs) can provide students with 50% subsidy on these tablets. If you consider that the cost for students will be in the range of Rs. 1100/- or about USD 24!
It is possible that some of the institutions may not be able to offer these subsidies in which case, students will get it at a cost of Rs. 2200!
The Tablet Road Ahead
Currently the 100,000 tablets that have been ordered is only for pilot purposes. IIT Rajasthan wants rigorous field & usability testing to happen on them. These first set of tablets will be sent to Institutions all across India and will be given to students for testing purposes. Based on the usage and feedback, IIT Rajasthan will make required changes to the device and will place tender for next batch of a Million Tablets.
Tablet Launch Date
IIT Rajasthan will receive first set of 10,000 tablets (out of 100k) in first week of July and rest will be delivered in phased manner. If the usability tests go as expected, IIT Rajasthan will issue second tender for 1 Million tablets before the close of this year!
Yes, the tablet is for real ! I am sure it will see the light of the day…
What I am really looking forward to see is how usable it is and how it will help students in their education. The specs that have been defined in the tender point that it does have all the necessary bells & whistles, but how well they work in reality has to be seen. It is possible that with such low pricing, the hardware quality may not be of high standards and may offer students a sub-par experience.
Let us wait and watch – We will surely do a complete review of this device when we manage to get our hands on them!