Will Indian government drop Datawind from Aakash contract?

by Doug Drinkwater

February 20 2012

Datawind's involvement in the Aakash project looks to be under threat
Datawind's involvement in the Aakash project looks to be under threat

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.

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  • Prakrit
    2 years 5 months ago

    The Govt provided the specs for Aakash. The device has been certified by the Govt of India.http://www.ubislate.com/quality.html
    The upgraded version, Ubislate 7+ has features that no other tablet anywhere provides at Rs. 3000. We need to consider that-
    1. India does not have the technology to deliver a low cost tablet. Aakash priced below $50 has been possible because of Datawind's patented technologies. Such a device at the same price will not be possible without Datawind's cooperation.
    2. With the kind of blunders committed by the chief of IIT-Rajasthan and the bureaucratic hurdles that the company has had to face in India, foreign companies are going to get very cautious about bringing in new technologies.
    3. Datawind already has more than 2 million pre-orders for Ubislate7+. So it does not need Indian Govt as a buyer but the Govt definitely needs it to deliver the device which is a crucial component of NME-ICT.
    We can understand what is better for us. Any ego issues will cost the nation dearly.

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