A year ago the highly anticipated Aakash tablet was officially announced. Though the promise of a $35 price tag did not become a reality back then the pricing at $50 still was way below the iPad and other Android tablets that were on the market in October 2011 (but no one remembers them).
Yesterday, the Aakash 2 was officially announced. This time Datawind made sure that there is no discussion about the pricing. The Aakash 2 is the cheapest tablet on the market. According to an article on Quartz even China can’t compete with the $40 price of the Aakash 2 retail version. And it gets better, students will be able to purchase the tablet for $20.
There are even plans to hand out the Aakash for free to primary schools. Right now, all textbooks for primary schools in India are based on a public domain curriculum. The shipping of the printed textbooks costs the government about $13 per year per student. If those printed books were replaced by e-books for the Aakash each device could be recouped over the projected three-year life span of the tablet.
On top of that students would get access to the other benefits of working with a tablet and eventually the Internet for the same price of the current printed textbooks.
Now, we all know that the story of the Aakash has been a rocky one, so far. Lots of problems with the hardware, late or no delivery yet the Indian government and Datawind seem to be determined to make this experiment work.
The specs of the Aakash 2 include a 7-inch touch panel, 1GHz Cortex-A8 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of Flash storage, Android 4.0.3, built-in WiFi and a front-facing VGA camera according to Engadget.
The article on Quartz goes into some more detail on how low cost tablets like the Aakash might end up disrupting the PC market and end up being handed out for free to consumers. I don’t agree entirely with the idea that those ultra cheap (or free) devices will become our main devices at home or at work but it makes an interesting read, nevertheless.