India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

Summary: The Indian government unveiled a working prototype today of a small tablet computer that it says will initially sell for $35. The same organization within the government, however, also announced a prototype $10 laptop last year amid initiatives to connect all of India's college-age students to learning resources.

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The Indian government unveiled a working prototype today of a small tablet computer that it says will initially sell for $35. The same organization within the government, however, also announced a prototype $10 laptop last year amid initiatives to connect all of India's college-age students to learning resources. Obviously, $10 netbooks aren't flying off the shelves or in the hands of Bangalore's next generation of IT workers. So is this the real deal?

There's actually a fair amount of evidence to suggest that this one will see the light of day, although one has to wonder if $35 is reasonable outside of India where government subsidies could keep costs down. Given rapidly falling equipment costs, though, $35-50 isn't outlandish, particularly with recent advances from Pixel Qi and potential ODM interest in Taiwan to manufacture these devices at scale.

Further examination of the specs and video of a working prototype inspire a bit more confidence in this iteration as well:

Again, while Nicholas Negroponte is known for his accuracy in predicting prices for OLPC products, he is seeing $75 as a price point for a proposed tablet-based iteration of the OLPC XO. Clearly, $75 is the price to beat for schools and education ministries to roll out any sort of tablet on truly large scales, but the $35 tablet, with no internal storage, also presumes a set of cloud applications to support learning efforts. These web applications will need to leverage emerging mobile technologies to ensure that they are touch optimized, fast, and rich in ways that HTML 5 continues to promise.

No word on which version of Linux will power the device, assuming it comes to market, or how it will cultivate a developer ecosystem, but it seems pretty likely that 2011 will see a host of inexpensive tablet devices that could be quickly deployed in educational settings if the software and apps are there to support it. Hey, what was that I was saying about living in an app world?

Topics: Hardware, Government, Government US, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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27 comments
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  • Um. No.

    In terms of technology, you [i]do[/i] get what you pay for. $35 will buy you a new toy for two days before something happens to it. Even netbooks sell for more.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Agree

      Considering that the batteries and power related components themselves will cost more than $35 .....
      wackoae
    • Get what you pay for?

      @NStalnecker Does this mean a Mac is a good deal?
      levinson
      • Yes!

        The fact that you don't know it is shows how much of an <insert favorite funny insult here> you are.

        Seriously, Macs are a lot better computers than your regular brand name cookie cutter PC clone.
        wackoae
      • RE: India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

        @ wackoae is someone who doesn't recognize sarcasm. You need to consider who I replied to in the first place! Too bad there isn't a reply button for his comment so I could reply directly, but I guess this will have to do.
        levinson
    • u nuts?

      @NStalnecker
      you know iPad manufacturing costs just 220 bucks? and they sell for $500+? it is not impossible to create one with $35. also they have mentioned that it is subsidized. so there.
      coolkams03@...
      • How is a minimum cost of $200 not imposible to drop to $35???

        The the law of latrine logic strikes again.
        wackoae
      • RE: India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

        @coolkams03@... I agree. When you look at the actual parts breakdown of the iPad, it's clear that specific components pushed the price over the $200 mark. They don't need to use a $80 screen like Apple did, and they most certainly wouldn't need to use a $17 battery or a $17 processor. It's definitely doable, especially since they've got a huge market for it...they've got a sixth of the world's population after all.
        eMJayy
      • iPad is overpriced

        @coolkams03@...

        Go compared a 32GB iPod Touch with a 32GB WiFi ipad.... You're paying $300 more for just a bigger screen and no new functionality.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

      @NStalnecker

      Err. I agree with you.

      I feel so dirty now...
      Jkirk3279
  • Wireless mainframe terminals... Larry Ellison should be happy.

    "with no internal storage, also presumes a set of cloud applications to support learning efforts."<br><br>But in essence, it's a wireless dummy terminal that will connect to a mainframe... aka cloud. For a classroom, it's brilliant... Not worth anything once removed from that cloud. So a student couldn't use it for homework... But talk about controlled content.
    i8thecat
  • RE: India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

    dear all -->

    I do not understand how do you people comment without knowing all the facts and by just reading an article..

    for your kind info, the batteries and all will be built from scratch in such a way that it takes a minor fraction of the 35$ cost. In fact all of the components are being engineered from scratch and not your Mac style where you purchase components from other vendors , assemble them together and sell them to you for 1k$ and you go yuppiiee i got a Mac!! There is a world beyond Mac's .. grow up people. You should not be surprised if the chinese come out with a 20$ one in 2 years of time.
    roger_that
    • RE: India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

      @roger_that

      They are going to build and engineer batteries and all electrical components from scratch? And DRAM, LCD panel and silicon wafer technology too? Each of these plants cost billions of dollars to build and millions each hour to operate. Reengineer these things that the Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese have already spent decades and hundreds of billions of dollars to research and engineer? The LCD panel alone would cost $35 with current technology and investment to produce. But I guess they will come up with new technology, give the technology away to Korean and Taiwanese manufacturers, give them billions of dollars to set up a plant, and have them make $1 panels for them.
      sam101200
  • outside the class

    Should work in libraries, dorms, coffee shops, (or w/in 399 ft. of my house.) It certainly seems do-able, and if it has sufficient USB connectability for exteranl storage and such, could be the cat's meow.
    olddogv
  • OLPC XO: the new way of doing multi-tasking...

    If one could get his hands on the tablet for $35 or even $70, then one could also get his hands on a bunch of them for the purposes of multi-tasking, with each tablet handling one application. ;-)


    So, instead of trying to get one tablet to open up a bunch of applications at one time, you could have a bunch of those cheap tablets, with each of those OLPC XO tablets handling one app at a time. So, for the price of a $700 iPad, one could get perhaps some 10 or 20 OLPC XO tablets, and run some 10 or 20 apps, one per tablet. All you'd need then is a place to put all the tablets. Perhaps someone will invent a tablet rolodex to stack them like dominoes?
    adornoe
  • RE: India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

    way to go roger_that!! these comments by half-informed so called geeks/nerds just speaks volumes of the ostrich syndrome of the west. now wonder they couldn't see a an airplane flying straight into their a******* condescension sucks guys!! go take a walk!
    p_missier@...
    • Meanwhile, you didn't really comment on the topic at hand and...

      you failed miserably on debunking the "geeks/nerds" on their points (or non-points; take your pick).

      I've always believed that if someone has nothing to contribute to the discussion, that they should keep their mouths shut (or their keyboards unused). You failed to keep your mouth shut and your keyboard was used for basically typing asinine remarks. Why waste your time and everybody else's when you have nothing of value to contribute?

      Besides all that, you need to go back to school to learn some written communications skills, especially on grammar and spelling. If English is not your first language, then just use sign language (you'll do a lot better that way).

      Besides the total ignorance that you displayed on your post, you are also especially arrogant and insensitive with your remarks concerning the 9/11 attacks. While you may have thought that you were being cute and/or better informed, all that I could gather from your post is that you are simply stupid and ignorant and a lot worse informed than the people that you attacked with your post.
      adornoe
      • RE: India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

        @adornoe@... Your suggestion that people who do not have English as a first language should use sign language instead is absurd. p_missier has successfully communicated his point of view. While there were some minor grammatical errors (3) in his post, there were there were no spelling mistakes, and there is no need for him to go back to school.
        Joshua Issac
  • RE: India's $35 tablet - vaporware or the real deal?

    It seems unfair that the United States, as other countries in the World, should have to compete with others elsewhere where very cheap labor is their primary advantage. Yet complaining about our house getting flooded won?t make it any drier. Only our hard work will do that, and only the ingenuity and savvy of the American people will see us through.
    In facing the challenge, let us not forget that we still excel in the important areas of education, technology, individual freedoms, the arts, entertainment, elective government, our courts, natural resources, and yes, even our health care. Moreover, labor costs should eventually reach an equilibrium across the globe, since people and their needs are the same across the globe.
    Yet, an even greater challenge lies ahead, and with far greater consequences than cheap computer technology: This is the abundant energy from the sun, and our constantly improving ways to capture it and store it the form of hydrogen. Thus while the sun for centuries had dried-up huge lands, it is about to make them vibrant with cheap electricity for industry and living.
    By the time we take notice, the geopolitical implications will be beyond anybody?s control. For those of us who are accustomed to having our way, times may get a lot rougher ahead. But there ain't no going back to the world of yesterday. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can roll up our sleeves to compete on the global stage -- the only forum left.
    kafantaris
    • Geez! That was so profound, and so... what's the word I'm looking for...

      err... <br><br>irrelevant?<br><br>Meanwhile, what do you think about the possibility of $35 tablets? <br><br>That's a lot more important and relevant than your idealistic and unrealistic rhetoric.
      adornoe