Aakash, India’s much awaited, much discussed Rs 2500 tablet has once again run into controversy. According to a report in the Times of India, the company behind Aakash, Datawind, has come out and accused IIT Rajasthan of ruining the project.
The production of the low end tablet is currently at a standstill, and the company has moved to an upgraded version of the tablet which will cost around Rs 3500. Earlier this week, Kapil Sibal announced that a second version of Aakash would be launched in May.
Aakash, which the govt of India had hoped would revolutionise and change digital education in India, has faced a constant series of failure. Datawind’s latest salvo against IIT Rajasthan, alleges that the chief agency which was overlooking the project, has exaggerated concerns over the tablet’s quality and functionality in a bid to “favour other firms”.
According to TOI, Datawind’s CEO, Suneet Singh Tuli said, “IIT Rajasthan was simply trying to defame us by saying that we could not meet the quality required by it.”
“When we were awarded the contract, there was only a specification sheet. But when we started supplying the tablets, IIT Rajasthan started rejecting the tablet based on biased and unscientific testing methodology”, he added.
Aakash and Datawind’s problems have been compounded further, now that several other cheaper tablets have been launched in India by companies such as WishTel’s Android tablet which will be available for as low as Rs 4000.
The Datawind vs IIT Rajasthan feud is not exactly new. In February of this year, IIT Rajasthan had raised serious doubts over the quality of the Aakash tablet.
The major cause of problems was over technical specifications of the tablet, with IIT Rajasthan hoping for slightly higher standards such as a water-proof tablet, while Datawind said that what the IIT was arguing for was unfeasible and not within its budget range.
Now Datawind has upgraded the tablet with a higher OS, a three hour battery backup, a faster 700 MHz Cortex A8 processor and a capacitive touchscreen. But Aakash’s problem won’t just end with a faster processor. The crucial question over Aakash will always be whether it can survive the quality test. Unfortunately for that to happen the cost of the tablet will just have to go up.