© Android Community, 2011

Marlow, I. (2012) The Next Billion Report on Business Toronto: Globe and Mail, January

This has to be the best e-learning technology story of 2011. Datawind, a relatively small Canadian company based in Montreal, has won an Indian government contract to produce a 7 inch touchscreen tablet named Aakash that costs $52 to manufacture and will sell, with Indian government subsidy, for $35 for universities, colleges and high schools in India. The tablet runs on Google’s Android software.

Datawind aims to manufacture (in India) 12 million tablets in 2012, with a potential market of over 100 million students in India alone. Orders are now also pouring in from Thailand, Turkey, Sweden and many other countries. It has already manufactured 10,000 test tablets. (The tablet is available for sale only in India at the moment, and it’s hard to get until production ramps up).

This story is well worth reading in full. It shows how two Indian-born Canadian businessmen responded within two weeks to the Indian government request for proposal. The tablet is named Aakash after the Hindi word for ‘sky’, because Suneet Raja Singh Tuli, Datawind’s CEO, was on a Delhi to Toronto flight after signing the contract when a woman gave birth to a baby which she called Aakash (“Sky.”)

The significance of this contract cannot be underestimated. As the article reports:

More than 800 million people in India have mobile phones, yet only 10% of Indians have Internet access….The Indian government is banking on a nationally subsidized mobile tablet to help pull millions of its disconnected citizens online and into the modern economy.’

India already has a thriving e-learning software and content development industry. Expect this to take off in the next year or so as universities, colleges and schools start demanding content for the tablets.



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