Indian Telecom and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has today said that the upgraded version of the Aakash (Hindi for 'Heaven') tablet will cost no more than $50 - as originally predicted, but has poured doubt on whether Datawind, the British company behind the design and production of the tablet, will be kept on for the contract.
The Aakash, which has a 7-inch screen and which runs Android 2.2 (Froyo) has to date been tested by around one million Indian students, but the Indian government has hopes of eventually bringing the tablet to as many as 10 million students across the country.
However, despite the initial optimism, the project now seems to have hit a snag, with Datawind now being criticised for missing contractual deadlines, and for failing to provide an adequate customer service platform. The Indian government was also reported to be unhappy about some defects with the first batch of delivered tablets, and has hinted that Datawind may not be kept on for the remaining of the tender.
Kapil Sipal has done nothing to dismiss the rumors, choosing instead to promote the benefits of competition. "I think it is a great thing if there is competition. Ultimately my objective is to get a quality product in the hands of the children."
TabTimes did contact Datawind for a comment on the issue, but has not yet heard back from the company.