In late 2011, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development launched the Aakash media tablet destined for the masses through a subsidized school program. Fast-forward the clock nearly six months to the day: only a few hundred families participating in a pilot launch have received the slates.
Accusations have started flying as to who is to blame for the delays. Device OEM, Datawing, claims the Indian Institute of Technology Rajasthan (IIT Rajasthan) has subjected the product to undocumented quality standards and harming the company’s reputation in order to bring other suppliers into the Aakash project.
Datawing says it delivered 100,000 of the 1 million unit government order to specification, though these qualification delays have set schedules six months back from the original plan. As a result, the company has started production on a second-generation Aakash device. The Aakash 2 replaces the original resistive touchscreen with a capacitive touch display capable of multi-touch. The slate also receives an upgraded applications processor based on ARM’s Cortex A8 architecture. Shipments to replace the initial 100,000 piece order are expected to start this month to another IIT site located in Mumbai. The Ministry will ask for new OEM bids beyond this first quantity.
The Datawing-branded version of the Aakash tablet – called Ubislate – is also behind schedule. The vendor claims it has backlog for 3 million of the devices. Initial shipments are also expected this month with Datawing offering to ship an upgraded Ubislate+ tablet for the same price and as a token of appreciation for customers’ patience.