India may have just introduced a new threat to both the One Laptop Per Child's $100 XO Laptop and Apple's iPad: a $35 touchscreen tablet PC capable of connecting to the Internet, video conferencing, and even drawing solar power. For a country where 600 million of its 1 billion people already own cellphones, this handheld device appears to be the next logical upgrade in connectivity for the world's largest democracy.
According to India's Human Resources Development Minister, Kapil Sibal, who unveiled the tablet today, the primary target for its initial launch is the education sector. Government officials told CNN that it wanted the country's universities fully connected, as part of its education goals, and that this device—the price of which could soon fall as low as $10—could be the key to hitting that target.
Over at PC magazine, Tony Bradley sees applications in the corporate sector, as well:
At $35, the Indian tablet is virtually disposable--far exceeding the $100 laptop developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and used in the non-profit One Laptop One Child program. In fact, in many ways the $35 tablet also makes the $500 iPad seem significantly over-priced. ...Businesses that have adopted the iPad, though, might be very interested in a touchscreen, Web-enabled tablet that can enable mobile workers to access cloud-based applications and data for less than 10 percent of the cost of the iPad. In a cloud-based infrastructure, the device used to connect to and access information does not need the bells and whistles common on desktops and laptops. The tablet becomes a commodity, consuming less power, and delivering significant cost savings.
Leaving business aside, if the price does in fact fall to $10 per unit, does this device suddenly become the go-to for connectivity amongst schoolchildren in the developing world over the XO?