It looks like I was slightly mistaken when I reported that the Aakash tablet was dead; it turns out that Datawind, the hardware partner, couldn’t make the tablet nearly as fast as they were sold, so they stopped taking orders.
Over a million of the cheap junky tablets were ordered in the first couple weeks, and the website was so active that their service provider thought the site was under attack.
Sales are so good that Datawind has already made plans to open 3 new factories in India in the first half of 2012. “We never expected such a high response from both corporate and individual buyers. We plan to supply 70,000-75,000 units per day once the factories are in place by April,” said the CEO of Datawind, Suneet Singh Tuli.
In fact, the Aakash tablet is already the best selling tablet on the Indian market. It hit that milestone back when it was still in the pre-order stage in October. About 400k aakash were ordered, and up to that point the entire Indian tablet market was around 300 thousand units.
If and when Datawind manages to catch up with existing orders, they plan to put the Aakash back on the market. But until that happens all they have to sell will be the Ubislate 7, the more powerful and costly model. This tablet is running on a significantly fast CPU (700MHz vs 366MHz), and it will ship with both Wifi and a GPRS data connection. The Ubilsate is expected to cost 3,000 rupees (~$60), not the $45 that the Aakash cost.
And that extra cost is probably worth it. I’ve come across a number of early reviews, including one where the tablet died in under an hour. Another reported that it has only a 3 hour battery life and that the touchscreen was best described as sticky. It looks like you really do get what you’re paying for.
Now, you might argue that I’m being unduly pessimistic, but consider those 3 factories that Datawind will be opening. Until they get the bugs worked out of the assembly line, those factories are going to make a fair number of manufacturing errors. At least some errors will be missed by QA and that means customers will be stuck with them. Given how much the specs have been pared down to reduce cost, I suspect that the cheap components will also contribute to a higher than normal failure rate.
via Times of India