A pair of Indian companies are touting a homegrown handheld, eyeing both
the local market and a wider audience.
The Amida Simputer, originally developed as a "poor man's computer
," is now being
pitched as a device that can handle a wide range of business and
personal-computing requirements. The Linux-powered handheld combines the
functions of an organizer and an MP3 player and has handwriting recognition
The device was developed by PicoPeta
, a Bangalore-based industry academic group, and is being
manufactured by Bharat
, an Indian government-owned company. Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
, an outspoken
supporter of open-source software, formally launched the product via
teleconference from New Delhi last week, saying it could play a role in
providing government services to citizens.
The Amida Simputer is designed to enable scribbling and e-mailing of notes
regardless of language, a key factor in the multilingual Indian market. It also
has an on-screen keyboard for two Indian languages--Hindi and Kannada--with more
languages to be added soon, the companies said.
But the ambitions of the device's makers don't stop at the country's borders.
"We have taken the first steps of an Indian product company building a global
brand," V. Vinay, chairman of PicoPeta, said in a statement.
The Amida won't be alone in the Indian market. PalmOne, for instance, offers
a range of Zire and Tungsten handhelds at its Indian Web site.
The Amida Simputer comes in three models, with prices ranging from about US$240
to US$480 (9,950 to 19,950 rupees). It is powered by a 206MHz ARM
processor and features 32MB of permanent storage, 64MB of RAM, a 3.8-inch touch
screen and a smart-card reader. It can be connected to a landline or a Code
Division Multiple Access phone for Internet browsing, and it doubles as an MP3
The device was originally developed for use in rural areas and for
applications such as microfinance and e-governance. Prototypes were used in such
projects in India.
It is available
online and at showrooms to be opened in Bangalore next month.