Aakash tablet, the low cost Android tablet was the pet project of former HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, whose vision was to ensure the availability of a tablet for every Indian student, at a budget-friendly price point. Though the idea was amazing, the Aakash tablet had a multitude of issues.
A change in leadership with M.M. Pallam Raju taking over the control, the first question on everyone's mind is whether this project will continue, especially after the difficulties with production and shipment the manufacturer of the Aakash tablet - Datawind has faced.
On Tuesday, Datawind CEO Sunit Singh Tuli addressed the concerns regarding the Aakash 2 shipments and released the following statistics.
* 17,100 units have been shipped to IIT-Bombay
* 29,400 devices are on the way and should arrive in the next few days
* 23,500 are manufactured and pending shipment
The country's new human resource and development minister announced the decision to shut down the initiative if Datawind fails to meet the target of delivering 100,000 Aakash 2 tablets by March 31, 2013, which is only a few days away.
In a status report, DataWind said it was making all efforts to deliver as many of its second-generation Aakash 2 tablets devices by March 31. Also, the company made a statement claiming that it is the remaining 30,000 units need a final assembly, which is expected to happen within the next couple of weeks.
Clearly, DataWind will not be able to achieve the target of 100,000 units by March 31, if the remaining 30,000 Aakash 2 tablets are to be assembled only after the deadline. Could this really be the demise of the Aakash project as stated by the Indian government?
While the Aakash 2 is still waiting get off the ground, there is already talk of the third generation Aakash tablet, which is expected to launch mid-2013. According to the specifications available on the Datawind website, the Aakash 3 will be very similar to the Aakash 2, with the same 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage expandable via microSD, a 0.3MP front camera and Android 4.0 ICS. The only noticeable difference between the two will be the addition of a SIM card slot for 2G and 3G connectivity in the forthcoming device.