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Priced at $20, the High Functioning Aakash 2 Tablet Could Change the World

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, November 13 2012

Two weeks ago we published a brief noting the Indian government's rollout of a project to distribute very cheap Android tablets to millions of students. Now the newly-launched digital magazine Quartz has published a fascinating feature article that is provocatively titled How a $20 tablet from India could blindside PC makers, educate billions and transform computing as we know it.

The tablet is priced at $20, which makes it "the cheapest fully functional tablet PC on the planet." The nearest competitor is a Chinese model that goes for $45.

In the developing world, and especially in India, a country where one billion people have a monthly income less than $200, every rupee matters. Aakash means “blue sky” in Hindi, and that’s a fair description of Datawind’s goals for the tablet. Ultimately, says Tuli, the government would like to distribute one to each of India’s 220 million students. India has 900 million cell phone subscriptions, but in a country where smartphones are rare, 95% of Indians have no computing device. Which means the Aakash, or something like it, could become the sole computer for hundreds of millions of people in India, not to mention elsewhere in the developing world.

The Aakash 2, as the tablet is called, has met with enthusiastic responses from jaded test users in the U.S.; it is also manufactured to work with less sophisticated infrastructure, so that pages load quickly even when connectivity is slow, for example.

The article makes clear the enormous significance of a low-cost, high-functioning tablet. My thought upon arriving at the final paragraph was a variation on "I have seen the future and it works."

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