[AI] Indian hardware market abuzz with tablet PCs

RENUKA WARRIER erenuka at gmail.com
Sun Aug 29 08:35:07 EDT 2010

Date:29/08/2010 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2010/08/29/stories/2010082955330800.htm


Indian hardware market abuzz with tablet PCs 

Karthik Subramanian 

CHENNAI: For a country full of software developers, India has seldom made a significant contribution when it comes to computer hardware entirely conceived
and developed in the country.

But that seems to be an old story. At least three different gadgets - all tablet PCs - have captured the imagination of geeks across the globe in the past
few weeks. Two of the devices are staking claims to becoming the lowest-priced tablet PCs, while the other is a stunner that promises to take on the best
in the game.

The government-sponsored 'Rs. 1,500 laptop' (approximately $35) was announced by Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal last month as an "answer
to MIT" (Nicholas Negroponte's famous "One Laptop per Child" was conceived at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

By a very long haul, against $100 'xo' laptop of OLPC, the device ambitiously looks at becoming the cheapest computing device ever capable of running a
complete operating system. There are questions as to whether the prototype would be viable for large-scale production, retaining the touted cost advantage.
That the country does not have manufacturing hubs for computer components makes the questions pertinent.

There have been suggestions that the government could cross-subsidise the cost of the device to its target student groups against commercial sale in other
markets, may be for a higher price. What remains to be seen is will the device keep up its promise of becoming the most affordable computer that reaches
the hands of millions of students.

Mr. Negroponte, meanwhile, through his official blog for the OLPC project (blog.laptop.org), has welcomed the $ 35 laptop for educational purposes, and
even offered resources for a possible collaboration. He has urged the Indian team of developers to focus on its design, making it a fun device for children
to use, and in the process killing "rote learning."

Close on the heels of the announcement of the government laptop, another company headquartered in Bangalore, Allgo Embedded Systems, unveiled Stamp, a prototype
device that runs Linux and Andriod operating systems on i.MX233, a cost-effective and low-end processor. So while it is not really a competitor in the
retail market, the device could find many takers in the B2B market. A video demo of the device, that sports a 7-inch touch screen, has been put on Allgo
Embedded Systems official website www.allgosystems.com.

Speaking about the tablet, tentatively pegged at $50, the company's CEO, K. Srinivasan, said the device would target niche B2B applications, such as smart
energy control panels or even for specific educational devices. The company is holding talks with manufacturers and hopes to go in for mass production
in four or five months.

The most interesting development from the Indian hardware stable though is the impending launch of Adam, the tablet PC designed and developed by Hyderabad-based
Notion Ink. Its young CEO and IIT graduate Rohan Shravan recently announced on the company's official blog that the device is headed for a global launch
in November. He also hinted that four variants (LCD and Pixel Qi screens with Wi-Fi and 3G support) would be available in the price range of $399 to $498.


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