It looks like an iPad, only it’s a fraction of the cost: India has unveiled the prototype of an Ipad clone that costs only $35. The basic touchscreen tablet is primarily for students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011.
If the Government can find a manufacturer, the Linux operating system-based computer would be the latest in a string of “world’s cheapest” innovations to hit the market out of India, which is home to the US$2127 compact Nano car, the US$16 water purifier and US$2000 open-heart surgery.
What does the ipad clone do?
The tablet can be used for functions such as word processing, web browsing and video-conferencing. It has a solar power option too – important for India’s energy-starved hinterlands – though that add-on costs extra.
“This is our answer to MIT’s US$100 computer,” said Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.
In 2005, Nicholas Negroponte – co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab – unveiled a prototype of a US$100 laptop for children in the developing world. India rejected that as too expensive and embarked on an effort to develop a cheaper option of its own.
Negroponte’s laptop ended up costing about US$200, but his nonprofit association, One Laptop Per Child, plans to launch a basic ipad clone for US$99. Sibal turned to students and professors at India’s elite technical universities to develop the US$35 tablet after receiving a “lukewarm” response from the private sector. He hopes to get the cost down to US$10 eventually.
Mamta Varma, a ministry spokeswoman, said falling hardware costs and intelligent design would make the price tag plausible.
Ipad Clone Hardware and software Savings
The ipad clone does not have a hard disk, but instead uses a memory card, much like a mobile phone. The tablet design cuts hardware costs, and the use of open-source software also adds to savings. Varma said several global manufacturers, including at least one from Taiwan, had shown interest in making the low-costipad clone.
The project is part of an ambitious education technology initiative by the Indian Government, which also aims to bring broadband connectivity to the nation’s 25,000 colleges and 504 universities and make study materials available online. The ministry says nearly 8500 colleges have been connected and 500 web and video-based courses uploaded on YouTube and other portals.
So what do you think? Would you ditch Apple for a cheap ipad clone that is good enough or do you need all the features of the real thing?