Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Tablet galore

First there were grey market Chinese made Android tablets. I bought a 7" resistive touch one, running Android 1.6. Then I bought a 10" resistive touch one, running Android 2.2.

Then the Indian government announced Aakash, its cheap 50$ variety. Supposed to be manufactured by Datawind, this went nowhere. In any other sensible country, the government and the minister responsible would have been taken to the task. Not in India. Kapil Sibal continues to be the minister for IT, Telecom as well as education through the Human Resource Development ministry. Make no mistake, Aaksh 2 will also be a disaster.

Datawind said it will push its own tablets priced around 4,000 Rs in the Indian market. Then, Wishtel announced it was launching its own low cost tablets.

Right through this period, we did have the Apple Ipad in the market while Samsung and Dell were selling their Android pads and RIM selling its Playbook versions.

Just recently, two low-cost players have announced their versions. One is HCL and the other Micromax.

The news reports presenting these announcements are rarely detailed. There are some key factors which determine whether the pricing is fair, such as whether the screen is resistive touch or capacitive touch, physical size of the screen (7" or 10" or ...), pixel density, chip speed, weight, OS (if Android, which version), battery life, storage capability, whether 3G compatible or only wi-fi, camera (if any, or 1 or 2 and their megapixels) and so on.

It is left the specialty sites to figure out exactly what is there in these devices and whether the price quoted is reasonable.

Both HCL and Micromax are looking to bundle educational content, in significant contrast to Apple, Samsung etc. In this, HCL/Micromax have really understood the Indian market. The children want fun and games but the parents want their children to study. Therefore, throw in some educational content to hoodwink the parents and they will buy it for their children. Then the children can happily play Angry Birds - all four of them.

It appears that in the short run, there will be more Android devices out in the Indian market. Apple Ipad will remain a premium product. A sub 10k Android pad will be easy to buy for most middle class. That is where things will turn out to be sad for most buyers. All these Android devices can not easily be upgraded to "newer" operating system. Their capability is highly limited. Most of them will not be Indian language compatible. Rooting the devices will not be easy. That sort of talent is still not available in India.

Even if rooting is possible (since most of the products are Chinese made and white-labelled and passed off as if manufactured in India), very few customers will even have the gall to do this. If you root the device you may lose the warranty and your manufacturer may not support you.

We have a long way to go.


  1. Here is a nice review of Micromax device:

  2. Badri, How about the BSNL T-Pad @ 3500 ?