We got in touch with Datawind folks in regards to the news that Aakash 2 has been picked up completely “off-the-shelf” from China – Here is the verbatim response that has been sent to us by them.
In response to the article appeared in the Hindustan Times, dated November 24, 2012, Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO DataWind would like to clarify the following points:
This sensationalist article is inaccurate and misleading. We deny the allegations made therein from unnamed ‘sources’.
Datawind is a design house that develops products and software. In the past we have developed a pocket internet device (Pocket Surfer) and net books such as our award winning seven inch and nine inch models which were sold worldwide. For these we developed all the printed circuit boards including the CPU motherboard and developed the software that runs on these CPU’s including our revolutionary compression technology that compresses data by an order of magnitude over anybody else so that it can run on the current net works in India.
Our key technological advantage is that we provide high speed internet access over the networks that are prevalent in rural India and our dream and goal is to provide the common man in India with low cost Internet. Our business model is similar to that of Apple where we use subcontract manufacturers to build our products. So, these are built in facilities of our contractors.
Anybody wishing to verify our technical competency can do this simply by checking the many dozens of patents we’ve received, on the U.S. government’s Patent & Trademark Office :http://tinyurl.com/d6o5283
We launched our low cost tablets in India a year ago which was and still is the lowest cost tablet in the world. These were built in India including all the circuit-boards in Hyderabad. This was based on a 360 Mhz Arm CPU. The next generation to that had an 800MHz Arm Cortex A8 CPU and all the boards were made in Hyderabad also.
The primary difference between Aakash I and 2 is the Capacitive Touch Screen. This is the most expensive and important element and this product is manufactured in our Montreal facility (Videos are uploaded on Youtube: http://youtu.be/8A39Yasa5fo and http://youtu.be/-vi6_94Mm8M) which has been visited by representatives of IIT.
This is one of the primary reasons why our devices are lower cost than others, as we use a proprietary technology. The Aakash2 uses the All winner A13 chip, which has become the standard among low cost tablets. The software and mechanical parts are developed by us and the motherboards utilize our approved designs based on A13 reference. The media are welcome to visit our Montreal facility where this is done and we are happy to disclose our designs on a confidential basis.
For the first 10k units for IIT, and for expediency sake we had the motherboards and kits manufactured in our Chinese subcontractor’s facilities, and then the units have been ‘kitted’ in China at various manufacturers for expediency, whereas the final assembly and programming has happened in India. This was well discussed and we got approval prior to shipping.
The initial devices were assembled and programmed at our facilities in New Delhi and Amritsar. We finished this batch of 10k units and delivered them to IIT and will be starting another batch of 20k units for them in two weeks. The media are welcome to visit when we do this batch. We also have four partner manufacturers across India that will work on the deliveries to the government but we just couldn’t get them started to assemble our new Aakash2 units in time but they will start to ship early in December.
Further to this, we’re setting up our second touch screen facility in India, which is going through pilot right now. The full clean room facility will be up and running in another month. We will be producing a press release at that time with tours.
We have been strong proponents of developing a manufacturing base in India, and our actions continue to reflect this. It looks like these allegations are a desperate attempt by somebody to sabotage the image of India, and we would urge you not to fall prey to such attempts.
Suneet Singh Tuli