Tablets: A cure for India’s technological illiteracy?


I often claim to be a technology aficionado keeping my self abreast with latest gadgets, tech news et al and trying to see what is the upcoming buzz and how it can be used in India. However, I was disheartened by the low usage of computers (laptops, desktops etc) by elders in my family and near relatives. Laptops though, are becoming increasingly popular atleast in Gen-X,Y and millennials if we go by its sales.

The story probably is pretty much the same for a typical middle class family in India. Initial costs of PCs and desktops also dripping are not as affordable as we want it to be. More than that I think the technological complexity is biggest barrier to usage for them. Middle class and rural population do not see the utility and how buying a computer would impact them directly, thus they are not willing to take the “risk”.


The upcoming tablet era however should change that. For example to start a video chat on a simple PC it takes 5-6 steps (including several mouse clicks, button and keyboard presses and not to mention random popping windows when you boot up your system). While it may look awfully simpler to us, my father and grandfather become impatient. So how is a tablet different? On iPod-Touch ($200 in US) my father needs 1 “touch” to access songs, videos, pictures, and 2 “touches” for web browsing. Not to forget the brilliant display and portability. Just add a dual camera to my iPod and it makes video conferencing and taking pictures for him ridiculously easy.

Extrapolating my example and with several tablets lined up to be launched in the market I can see a huge potential impact in various sections of the society.

Few Tablets launched or to be launched in India sooner or later:-

  1. Dell streak
  2. LG droid tablet
  3. Notion Ink Adam
  4. Archos 5
  5. Amazon Kindle
  6. Apple iPad
  7. Apple iTouch
  8. Google, Microsoft etc entering into tablet business using Win-7, android

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Impact on Education:

I believe that tablets/e-book readers can revolutionize the computer labs. Most school cities and small town boasts of computer labs which typically have basic PCs, costing around $350. Tablets can not only bring this cost lower but also make the experience more fun. E-book readers in libraries can also take away the cost of huge investments in books and storage facilities.

Impact on Healthcare:

Remote diagnosis can be made very easy by using tablets. A simple dual camera support can help hospital do a basic diagnosis in remote areas or keep track of normal day-to-day tasks with these low costs tablets.

Internet Penetration:

Internet penetration is a huge issue in India as of now. Tablets will make accessing Internet easy and reduce the technology barrier in India much like mobile phone did. For a start cyber cafes can use tablets, which would increase awareness among people thus making the tablets easy to adopt.

There are many other significant impacts of tablets like on-the-go ease of accessing emails, in various university labs etc but all of them prove that introduction of tablets would be a big boost to India’s technological illiteracy.

There are certain challenges which should be met if the tablet phenomenon is to succeed. Local language OS should be available to support the diversity in India. Wi-Fi connection should be cheaper and better. Lastly, telcos and tablet manufacturers should combine to provide data plans in various denominations much like- AT&T and Apple does or Amazon Kindle and Sprint do. While AT&T charges for the data plan, Amazon provided 3G free of cost with their Kindle. How would telcos and tablet manufacturer manage it? Hint: how did they manage proliferation of mobile phones?

Tablets I think would give Indian masses ease of computer usage without getting into understanding technological complexity.


  1. Madhav Shivpuri says

    Hi Ravi, Nice post.

    In terms of adopting a tablet and increasing internet usage are 2 different things, I think.

    Tablet itself can be used in multiple ways like where a touch screen computer can be used – example: searching for info in a mall, reading an ebook in a library, or a retail staff taking inventory.

    Using internet on the tablet is also an intended use of the tablet, however what with the high costs of internet access this may be a challenge in India. However, if say iphone users jailbreak their iphones and tether their tablet to it, then there is no real internet cost… so there has to be a low barrier to adoption.

    Another thing is like Amazon’s kindle – one just pay X amount and purchases it and not have to worry about signing up for or paying monthly costs toward 3G, Wi-fi etc. That’s makes adoption really easy.

    1. Ravi says

      Thanks Madhav. Appreciate your comment

      Agreed with your comments on Kindle and iPhone. Another option might be that Airtel or other telcos partner with say Dell and give a data plan + tablet at a cheap rate with a year contract or something on those lines.

  2. Amit says

    Nice one Ravi…
    And as you said these will also help the internet penetration ;-)

    1. Ravi says

      Thanks Amit.

      Anything which can increase the web penetration is welcome!

  3. Ravi says

    Glad you like it Altaf.

    Wouldn’t have been possible without team’s help though :)

  4. Altaf Rahman says

    Wowwww…@ Ravi,
    Simply superb article. Very educational.

    Selecting the topic of the article, data gathering, analysis and compilation. It has got it all.

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