So, big news in the ICT field today is that India has developed a $35 tablet computer. See the write up on Mashable at http://bit.ly/cpAtkK Some of the basics: a web browser, media player, PDF reader, office software, and videoconferencing. As far as the OS, I’m hearing Android. One thing that has me wondering is the built in connectivity options. I assume it will have WIFI, but what about mobile broadband (3G, etc…)? This could be HUGE in the developing world. Especially given the lack of wireline Internet and ubiquity of mobile networks in the global south.
This is a particularly interesting development for a number of reasons, most importantly the impact on ICT4D projects, education, digital divide and market competition. Now for a few years there has been a driving force for a $100 laptop, and of course the OLPC initiative….both of which I am simply not knowledgeable enough to speak in detail. However, the expectation in 2011 that a low cost computing device would become available is quite compelling.
The possibility of an inexpensive tablet is exciting, especially for development projects and education initiatives that need to make use of broadly distributed, cheap computing. In addition, a device like this and obviously more to come, will make a real difference in closing the gap in the digital divide. According to the reports, the plans are to drop the price to either $20 or even $10. The reason this announcement is so exciting, is if components can be compiled that cost no more than $35, this is just one effort…there will be more. More projects, more tablets, more competition.
Which brings me to competition and market forces. Once a device like this makes a presence in the market, it will exert downward pressure on other initiatives and manufacturers to produce something similar. There’s no doubt this will be a niche market at first, primarily India, then Asia, South America and Africa. I’m not sure at this point this has a place in the US market, but it will only be a matter of time before we have tons of competition to the Apple iPad.