Making of Aakash: The World's Cheapest Tablet
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
Indian Tablet Industry
Development of Aakash Tablet
The search for a low cost computing device was not new. Way back in 2002, the first low cost computing device came into existence. In 2002, Simputer Trust developed and released a low cost, portable alternative to the personal computer under the name Simputer, a combination of the words SIMPle comPUTER which could further be expanded to Simple, In-expensive Multi-lingual People's compUTER. After three years, in 2005, One Laptop Per Child Association Inc., offered a US$ 100 laptop to Indian children under the mission to provide inexpensive educational computers in developing nations across the world. Nicholas Negroponte (Negroponte) gave a presentation on the OLPC in New Delhi on April 7, 2006...
Challenges in Development of Aakash
According to experts, the development of a low cost tablet itself was a big challenge. When a good quality mobile phone was not available for under US$ 10, then thinking about a full-fledged tablet and making it a reality was itself a big challenge. When the Ministry of MHRD decided to develop a computing and access device in the price range of US$ 50 many tech and industry experts expected that it would turn out to be a nightmare for MHRD. During the process of making Aakash a reality, the MHRD had to face criticism from various sources. Jha wrote, "Exceptions apart, the US soil has remained the laboratory where new computing technologies get born. And China has refined the craft of manufacturing into its second nature, making the nation, the electronics factory of the world. Then, how would India make the "lowest cost" computer in a tablet form? It has never been known for creating computing technologies...
According to various reports, the Aakash tablet got an unexpectedly good response from various state governments. Universities too placed big orders for the tablet. For example, University of Mumbai had received around 20,000 orders for the Aakash tablets by the end of January 2012. In the same way, the Andhra Pradesh Government had placed an order for 10,000 tablets. The retail version of Aakash received an overwhelming response. Within 20 days, the pre launch booking had reached 2 million from individuals. Tuli said, "While industry analysts were forecasting only 250,000 tablet computers for the Indian market in 2012, our pre-booking rate is now averaging over 100,000 individual end-user sales each day and have cumulatively exceeded over two million." Experts believed that the emergence of Aakash would not only benefit India but also hold out a ray of hope to other developing nations. Tuli said, "This is not only a concept that applies to India, but has ignited the imagination of governments around the world. The Aakash is proudly made in India, and is destined to revolutionize computing and Internet access for the world."...
Exhibit I: First Prototype of Low Cost Device