Sagar, a friend of mine has been pushing me news about the new $35 laptop from the Indian HRD Ministry… And I’ve been saying it’s one of the false promises that politicians are known to make. Nothing good comes out of these news flashes. On the other hand, we also have another device that Dell is preparing to launch known as Dell Streak. These two devices have a lot in common, but are also quite different in the markets they are targeted for and obviously the price.
Now the Indian $35 Laptop:
Interestingly the software or the operating systems seem to be different in different demos. Some recent demos are showing an Android operating system, while the initial demos of the device seemed to have Meego installed on it. The device is still a year away from availability, but having seen it run and that too pretty smoothly for such a cheap device on Android, I am very pleasantly surprised. No technology in recent years has blown my imagination like this one… and if it can be mass produced with excellent software, this is the tablet that the world’s poor children were waiting. Understanding some of the challenges of such devices, I do not believe the tablet is still there. But it is definitely a leap forward…
The Dell Streak is another tablet device running the Android operating system. The Dell Streak is costing $550 and is available with a contract from AT&T at $300.
Streak is pretty expensive when you compare it feature-wise to the Indian tablet. Obviously the market and the margins are different, but just goes to show the line between phones and tablets is blurring. As Android becomes more prevalent in the market, the line becomes more blurred. As realized in Meego, the combination of Maemo (Nokia) and Moblin (Intel-Linux) turns out to be very powerful smartphone OS. Although these devices are great, it is the applications that make the user-experience special and make these useful.
As the Indian tablet progresses forward, the acceptance of the device are going to be determined by the applications that run on the device. If they are targeted towards children between the ages (6-12), it is going to be very interesting to build applications for them. Where education and knowledge can be taken to new limits, the true potential of such devices also depend on how they are delivered.