It's raining tablets in India

Aakash-II will be officially launched next week, but over a dozen tablets priced in the sub-US$100 range are already available in the market. And India's education sector seems ready to lap them up.
Written by Swati Prasad, Contributor

Sometimes, it's worth going over your spam folder. Like today, I was a millisecond away from deleting an e-mail from an online shopping portal, when I noticed its subject--an "ultraslim, 3G-enabled, 7-inch tablet for INR 2999 (US$56)".

I visited the Web site and, to my surprise, there were over a dozen tablets in the same price range (and this particular model wasn't the cheapest one) from brands such as Zync, Sylvania, Vox, Ubislate, and Xelectron. There were plenty more in the sub-US$100 price range (I counted 31 in all).

From news reports, it seems Datawind is officially going to launch Aakash-II sometime next week (reportedly Nov. 11). Although its predecessor failed to click, Aakash-II got some good reviews this time around. An IIT professor is apparently making a pitch to teacher from 250 engineering colleges to have this INR 2263 (US$42) tablet replace notebooks and blackboards in classrooms.

A recent study undertaken by Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (MAIT) said tablet sales in India were expected to cross 1.6 million units this year, a growth of 40 percent over last year, and way above the 16 percent growth registered by PCs and 26 percent by notebooks. Desktop sales grew by only 11 percent.

MAIT estimated tablet market would grow to 7.3 million units by 2015 to 2016.

According to the industry body comprising IT hardware manufacturers, tablets are emerging as the preferred device for entertainment and content consumption. The study noted the average price for a tablet sold in India is about INR 24,000 (US$447) and Apple's iOS, Google's Android and RIM Blackberry lead the way in platforms.

According to a recent study by CMR India Research, Micromax's Funbook led the Indian tablet market last quarter with an 18 percent market share, followed by Samsung's Galaxy Tab at 13 percent, and Apple's iPad at 12 percent. These are priced upward of INR 6500 (US$121).

Several schools and colleges are planning to introduce tablets in their curriculum. All these factors only indicate tablet market in India is all set boom in the coming year. One only hopes that India's education sector has much to gain from these devices.

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