Why the ‘Aakash’ can be good for India

Can Aakash change how the web is accessed in rural India?Sandwiched between the launch of the iPhone 4S and the passing away of Steve Jobs, India launched ‘Aakash’ the cheapest tablet on the planet. There was no dearth of crass jokes suggesting that it was the knowledge of this tablet was the last shock of His life.

Of course, on paper, ‘Aakash’ is not anything even close to existing tablets in the market today. The specs are fairly 5 state-of-the-art for the early 21st century. But that is not the point with this tablet. At the price point (sub Rs. 3000) it has the potential to reach many who would otherwise have no access to a similar device. Yes, it wouldn’t support any great processing ability, but it would enable access to the Internet. And that is something that India could do with at the grassroots level.

Now it only remains to be seen how efficiently the government distributes this device to where it is needed most. It would also be great if some NGOs put aside some of their budget to provide these devices to children in schools. The only thing that worries me is the 3-hour battery life. How is that going affect people who have access to as much power in a whole day? A little bit innovation on that front could do the cause a lot of good.

PS: Here’s what the specs look like.

  • Hardware:
    • Processor: Connexant with Graphics accelerator and HD Video processor
    • Memory (RAM): 256MB RAM / Storage (Internal): 2GB Flash
    • Storage (External): 2GB to 32GB Supported
    • Peripherals (USB2.0 ports, number): 1 Standard USB port
    • Audio out: 3.5mm jack / Audio in: 3.5mm jack
    • Display and Resolution: 7” display with 800×480 pixel resolution
    • Input Devices: Resistive touch screen
    • Connectivity and Networking: GPRS and WiFi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g
    • Power and Battery: Up to 180 minutes on battery. AC adapter 200-240 volt range.
  • Software:
    • OS: Android 2.2
    • Document Rendering
    • Supported Document formats: DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, ODT, ODP
    • PDF viewer, Text editor
  • Multimedia and Image Display
    • Image viewer supported formats: PNG, JPG, BMP and GIF
    • Supported audio formats: MP3, AAC, AC3, WAV, WMA
    • Supported video formats: MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, FLV
  • Communication and Internet
    • Web browser – Standards Compliance: xHTML 1.1 compliant, JavaScript 1.8 compliant
    • Separate application for online YouTube video
    • Safety and other standards compliance
  • CE certification / RoHS certification