Kapil_Sibal
Kapil Sibal (Credit:Wikipedia)

There was a time the Internet had a collective orgasm when India announced that it will develop a tablet computer for $35. But then, that was a long time ago. These days, it hardly gets any attention. Of course you can’t blame the transient Internet for having a short memory on this one. The controversies around the project and roadblocks were such. Nevertheless, honorable minister Kapil Sibal hasn’t given up hope.

Unfazed by the lack of success of the Aakash tablet so far, India’s Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said that the 4th version of the low cost tablet will be available by January next year. Minister Sibal made the announcement in Delhi today. (source)

“We have frozen the specifications of Aakash 4. Twelve global players have shown their interest in manufacturing Aakash. We will finalize rest of the details soon to make the device available to consumers by January next year,” the minister said.

He also acknowledged problems associated with previous versions by saying, “I am battling for success of Aakash. It has been my dream to make Aakash a success story” Last month, the Government of India made public the proposed specifications of Aakash 4 tablet. As per the notification, the tablet is to have a 7 inch LCD display with minimum 800×480 pixels resolution.

The government wants Aakash 4 to be dual boot tablet with Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean and Ubuntu operating system.

The Aakash back story

The Aakask tablet project has been besieged with problem from the very start. It was envisioned and started by Kapil Sibal when he was the Union Minister for Human Resource Development. He wanted a  $35 tablet that would revolutionize in the country.

It went ahead with the plan and announced specifications and floated a tender to get the device manufactured by a private player. But six months in, only 10,000 units were shipped whereas nearly 4 million orders were claimed. Early users complained of many bugs with the tablet.

The government tried to save the project by laying out new specifications and calling it Aakash 2. DataWind, the manufacturer had problems meeting deadlines and customer complaints continued.

President Pranab Mukherjee launched the second generation Aakash in November last year. But the Aakash 2 met with a similar fate. DataWind was also accused of buying Chinese equipment and selling it to the Indian government at a mark up. The company also sold commercial versions of the tablet under the brand name Ublislate.

DataWind announced in May that it had shipped 1 Lakh Aakash Tablets to the government. We really don’t know how many of these actually reached the hands of students. Or maybe they are rotting in Government godowns?

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