India to debut $35 tablet device

Aakash will run on the Android OS, is designed to expand digital access in the country

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India to debut $35 tablet device India in collaboration with DataWind is getting ready to release the world's cheapest tablet device, dubbed the Aakash. (Getty Images)
By  Georgina Enzer Published  October 5, 2011

India is launching the world's cheapest tablet computer, which will be sold to students at the subsidised price of $35 today. India hopes that the subsidised price will help expand digital access in the country, which lags behind China and Brazil, according to Reuters.

The device, called Aakash, which means sky, will be available in a pilot run of 100,000 units before being rolled out to millions of students over the next few months, according to the Indian government.

"Soon, a $35 computer will be made available to every child in school. The tablet shall help enhance the quality of learning of children," Telecoms and Education minister Kapil Sibal told Reuters.

The tablet is to be officially launched later today by Sibal and DataWind, the small British-based company that developed it.

The Aakash has spent two years in development and is due to be assembled in India. It is hoped that the device may help the government's goal of incorporating information technology in education. Many however are unsure the device can live up to expectations.

Bharat Mehra, an expert on the use of communications technology for development, told Reuters that the budget tablet could be used to deliver distance learning in rural areas and among students.

"If they are able to deliver what they promised it will make a huge difference," said Mehra, who teaches at the University of Tennessee.

The Aakash uses the Google Android operating system, but few other device specs were available ahead of the launch. Media reports suggested the device will connect via wireless broadband, unavailable in most areas.

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