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Sales Of £31 Aakash Android Tablet Reach 1.4 Million In India

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Manufacturer Datawind struggles to cope with overwhelming demand for world’s cheapest tablet

Sales of the world’s cheapest tablet, Aakash, have reached 1.4 million units in India, just two weeks after it was released online.

The popularity of the Android device, which costs just 2,500 rupees (£31) has led manufacturer Datawind to establish three new factories in India to cope with demand.

Datawind of change

The company is receiving 100,00 orders a day while pre-orders reached 400,000 in October, surpassing the entire Indian tablet market up till that date, which stood at 250,000 – 300,000 units last year.

“We never expected such a high response from both corporate and individual buyers. We plan to supply 70,000-75,000 units per day once the factories are in place by April,” commented Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind.

“Around two weeks ago, we received a call from India’s computer emergency response team that our website was probably suffering from a large cyber attack. We had to inform them we had just opened sale through our website,” he added.

By comparison, the iPad costs 29,500 rupees (£355), 12 times the price of the Aakash.

Despite the success of the current model, Datawind has no plans to rest on its laurels –  it intends to release a newer version of the device, the Aakash Ubislate 7 in mid-January. The 2,999 Rupee (£36) tablet will have a 700 MHz processor compared the Aakash’s 366 MHz and will also have a SIM card slot for GPRS or 2G connectivity.

The Aakash tablet is not the first low-cost computing scheme to be targeted at India. In March 2010, IBM and its partners teamed up to deliver a £127 cloud-based netbook aimed at emerging markets, while in August 2010, the head of One Laptop Per Child said he was willing to share the organisation’s technology with a project which had created a laptop which cost just £23.

Low-cost Android tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire are expected to erode Apple’s market share in 2012, with its iPad device currently dominating the market.