Aakash, which was launched on 5 October by Kapil Sibal, has proved to be a big success at least if pre-order numbers are taken as an indicator of the device’s popularity. Tech Crunch writes
In the last two weeks, Aakash has raked up 1.4 million pre-orders — iPad scale numbers. However these pre-orders are not paid for orders, which means people are waiting to buy the device.
The vendor for the device, DataWind which developed and designed Aakash could face a manufacturing problem because of the overwhelming response. According to a Times of India report, DataWind has decided to establish three new factories — in Cochin, Noida and Hyderabad — in the first half of 2012 to assemble the tablet.
Aakash, which costs Rs 2500 ($50), is available for students at around Rs 1800 ($35). The response clearly came as a big surprise, even to the Indian government, who thought that the Aakash website was under attack. For now the website has crashed and even the DataWind website shows that the tablet is sold out.
The tablet has a 7 inch touchscreen, weighs 350 gms, is WiFi enabled, has 2 USB ports, 256 MB RAM, 2GB flash memory, 2GB micro SD card and an expandable memory of 32GB. It runs on Google’s popular Android platform — the 2.2 Froyo.
While Aakash’s low cost has probably aided pre-orders, The fact is, the tablet has too many technical shortcomings which doesn’t make it the sturdiest or the most reliable of tabs.
The low-pricing has done much to generate public interest in the tab, but it doesn’t mean that user expectations are going to be any lower. In fact the average Aakash consumer will hope to do all that is possible with a regular, more expensive PC tablet.
Instant gaming, Facebook, and document editor are all fine features but then these are common applications that are available on even the cheapest of smartphones. To add to the competition, India has no dearth of cheap smartphones and or even cheap tablets. The only way for Aakash to ensure consumer loyalty would be to withstand the hardware tests, which are never easy.
It’s microprocessor is an Arm11— 366Mhz, which is rather slow and won’t make multi-tasking any quicker on the Android-enabled device. As an Android user, I can vouch for the fact that a slow processor doesn’t make Android a very pleasant user experience. A faster processor is intrinsically linked to the magic that is Android, but that also means the cost of the device goes up. Coupled with that, a RAM of 256 MB, sounds like the device was created in the era of Pentium 3 or 4, when 256 MB was a lot of RAM. Today with a heavy app download market that is beginning to boom in the country, 256 MB is just not enough. Multi-tasking in Aakash is likely to be painfully slow.
The other thing that is not likely not go down well with users is Aakash’s battery, 2100 milli amp hours (mAh) which roughly translates to one and a half hours. All tablets, and touchscreen devices are battery drainers. A lower battery life is only going to add to user frustration with the device.
Perhaps DataWind has realised the technical constraints of Aakash and therefore launched an upgraded version, the UbiSlate 7+. This has a much faster processor, the Cortex A8 – 700 Mhz and a slightly longer battery life of 3200 mAh. Added to that, UbiSlate 7+ has both WiFi and GPRS and a SIM and phone functionality, which is another plus point. What this means is that the UbiSlate 7+ probably has a better chance of competing with other cheaper tablets in India like the OlivePad and the Reliance 3G tab. The key point is that nearly all low-cost tablets are based on the Android platform. Both OlivePad and Reliance 3G tab are priced much higher than Aakash, between Rs 13000 to Rs 14000, UbiSlate 7+ has the edge in price since it will cost only Rs 3000.
For now pre-orders have ensured that Aakash has lived up to the hype. But the long-term success of the device depends on creating loyalty among users. With faster and newer devices being released in the country every month, Aakash’s success could be cut short due to its technical constraints.