Aakash vendor claims no contractual obligation to manufacture in India

DataWind, however, denied reports that the low-cost tablet was fully assembled in China

DataWind, the vendor of India's low-cost Aakash tablet, said it was not under any contractual obligation to assemble the product in India.

The company's CEO Suneet Singh Tuli said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he challenged any potential competitor to deliver a similar device with warranty and accessories at its rupees 2263 (US$40.7) price to the Indian government.

Tuli was reacting to newspaper reports that said DataWind had imported tablets designed and manufactured in China, and shipped them to the government.

The Aakash tablet, which is into its second version, has been touted as an Indian innovation that will bridge the digital divide in the country, starting with the education sector.

Rivals India and China have a longstanding border dispute, and the possibility that Chinese companies were involved in the tablet's manufacture is expected to be a sore point, particularly as the Indian government plans to showcase Aakash at a meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday.

The Indian government was not immediately available for comment.

Tuli said that some 10,000 units supplied to the government were imported as kits that included motherboards made to the company's specifications and capacitive touchscreens made by DataWind at its facility in Montreal and then assembled in India. "Our business model is similar to that of Apple where we use subcontract manufacturers to build our products," Tuli said in a statement over the weekend.

While he is committed to promoting the development of manufacturing capabilities in India, there was no requirement in the contract from the government to make the tablets in India, he said.

Aakash has been dogged by controversy, delays and complaints of poor performance ever since it was launched in October last year by the Indian government. The Android tablet project was hit by disputes between DataWind and a government-run educational institute over test criteria, and later a dispute with its contract manufacturer.

The company has meanwhile updated the device to the second-generation Aakash 2, which has a 7-inch capacitive multitouch screen and a single-core, 800MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, faster than the earlier 366MHz processor.

About 7,000 units of its first version Aakash 1 and another 13,000 units of the Aakash 2 have been delivered to the government, Tuli said. The delivery of the rest of the 100,000 units of the government order is to be completed by December. "We may ask for some extra time," Tuli said.

DataWind has also been selling the devices directly to Indian consumers under the UbiSlate brand. Over 300,000 devices have already been shipped, with some orders pending, Tuli said. Some of the devices supplied to consumers were fully assembled in China, he added.

The company has set up an assembly facility in India besides contracting to local manufacturers, Tuli said. The company will also be making the touchscreens in India at a facility that is expected to be running by December. It has taken time for the manufacturing ecosystem to develop, he added.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmenttabletshardware systemsDatawindAndroid tabletsGovernment use of IT

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?