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Troubled Datawind sues former Aakash maker, has only shipped 10,000 tablets

by Doug Drinkwater

April 17 2012

Datawind is countersuing Aakash contract manufacturer Quad Electronics Solutions
Datawind is countersuing Aakash contract manufacturer Quad Electronics Solutions

A month on from speculation that Aakash tablet maker Datawind was to be cut from the contract by the Indian government, new reports suggest Datawind has only shipped 10,000 Aakash tablets, and is suing the former contract maker of the slate for copyright violation.

Despite the rumors over friction between Datawind and the Indian government over the quality of the first version of Aakash, the contract does still stand, although the UK-based OEM vendor had been expected to deliver 100,000 tablets by March 31. As it is, due to problems with product testing and contractual disputes, a Datawind executive reportedly confirmed yesterday that just 10,000 Aakash slates have been shipped to date.

That's not the end of Datawind's troubles however, as the firm has also been hit with a dispute with the former contract maker of the Aakash, Quad Electronics Solutions. The company issued a statement on Monday warning Datawind that the Aakash did not meet reliability standards, and compounded Datawind’s problems by claiming that it is owed $1.12 million by the UK-based company.

Datawind has since served a legal notice to Quad, after alleging that the company offered to make the tablet directly for Indian Institute of Technology Rajasthan, infringing Datawind’s intellectual property, while Quad countered this by saying that it has tied with IIT Rajasthan, but to make a different product entirely.

The result of all this is all rather messy. Datawind has had to act quickly to sign a new contract manufacturer, while it is believed that some of the three million consumers who pre-ordered the consumer-version of the Aakash (without payment) are still awaiting their purchase.

Following on from the criticism of the first model, Datawind announced the second-generation Aakash 2 recently. The tablet has a 7-inch capacitive multi-touch screen, a single-core 800MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor (faster than the previous 366MHz model), runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and also features WiFi and GPRS. The tablet is to ship to consumers at around $57, and to $43 per unit to the Indian government, which plans to subsidize this cost to $35 for students.

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