Lenovo on Aakash 2: Tough to produce a quality tablet at that price
| by Anuradha Shetty |
In mid-August this year, we reported about Kapil Sibal affirming that the Aakash 2 would launch in the country "very soon". While there has been no update on the launch ever since, popular PC maker Lenovo shared in a statement that it is difficult to have a tablet offering a great user experience at a price as that proposed for India’s dream tablet, i.e. Rs. 2,276 ($41), reports The Economic Times.
Keith Liu, Business Development Director for Mobile Internet Digital Home division at Lenovo across Asia Pacific & Latin America regions in his statement, shared, “We are aware of the project and looking at that proposition. We don't disclose about tenders we are participating. In my personal view, it's very challenging to produce a tablet at that price, which can carry a great customer experience.” He added further, “As a person who studies the tablet market closely, I can say that the bill of materials will be high if you want to produce a quality tablet. At that (proposed) price, you may have to make the tablet limited in certain ways and functions."
Lenovo thinks it is tough to produce a quality tablet at Rs.2,276
In June this year, Sibal had announced that 100,000 units of the Akash 2 tablet would be provided to engineering colleges, deliveries for which was expected to begin last month. Sibal said, "That was the dream and I, as minister for Human Resource Development, asked myself the question can I provide a tablet to the students throughout the country that costs a reasonable amount so that all children can afford it and yet is able to deliver through the best technology, the vast information available on the net to them sitting wherever they are. We have realised a dream that was germinated a few years ago. We have been able to tell the world that through our frugal innovation system we can conquer the world and that's exactly what we need to do for India as a country."
Liu added further, “Besides cost, repair of a tablet currently is a large percentage of the actual price. Servicing the tablets can cause the margins to easily dip into negative territory." The report goes on to reveal further that the price limit on the Aakash tablet has been the reason behind many large tablet players such as Samsung, Dell, Lenovo and HCL not participating in the Aakash project.
Liu in his statement went on the share that the company was instead introducing tablets with features, which according to the company would be great for users at retail and corporate levels.
Earlier reports surrounding the Aakash 2 launch indicated that the tablet would run on Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS, priced aggressively at Rs. 2,263. It comes packed with more features and enhanced speed than its predecessor. Talks about Android v4.0 (ICS) being included in Aakash 2 began in April, when Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind stated in an email that the Aakash 2 tablet will have 2GB flash storage, an 800MHz processor and 256MB RAM, which should be enough to handle ICS. The Aakash 2 is a significant upgrade over the original Aakash tablet. The initial version of the tablet had a 7-inch resistive touchscreen, which failed to respond to touch. It ran Android v2.2 on a 366MHz processor, based on an older ARM architecture. The Aakash 2 tablet is likely to be replaced by a successor, which will have a dual-core Cortex - A9 processor by the end of this year.
As per a recent research put forth by Gartner Inc., it was revealed that Lenovo managed to hold on to its No.1 position in the second quarter of 2012, and this the report attributed to the "Execution of a substantial part of the Tamilnadu government order, very aggressive price points and increased channel activities." Lenovo's shipment grew 86 percent, supplementing its lead.
Along with IIT-Rajasthan, Canada-based Datawind took up the task of manufacturing the Aakash tablet in India for the masses. However, soon after, the tablet began facing a lot of criticism for its poor build quality, less-than-satisfactory battery and other drawbacks. Altercations between Datawind and IIT-Rajasthan began over a set of specifications, which the latter wanted to incorporate on the tablet. IIT-Rajasthan wanted the Aakash tablet to be water-proof and to include a set of some more military-style specifications. Datawind did not agree to these demands since it believed a humble tablet like Aakash didn't need military-style specifications. Soon, the project went into the hands of IIT-Bombay.
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