Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal on Wednesday said that the price of the Aakash tablet computer would be brought down to USD 35 from its current price of USD 49 in order to make it more affordable for students.
The Aakash is aimed at university students for digital learning via a government platform that distributes electronic books and courses.
Sibal said: "The Aakash is a tablet which at the moment costs 49 dollars. It will come down to 35 dollars very soon, and it has all the amenities of any modern tablet, a 1 gigahertz processor, 512 MB RAM, Android 4.0, capacitive screen. This is the Aakash 2. Aakash 3 will have Skype. So, it has all the advantages and, embedded into it are all kinds of software solutions."
The government has hailed the Aakash tablet as an achievement of Indian frugal engineering that would end the digital divide in a country where only one in every 10 of its 1.2 billion people use the Internet.
Products such as Apple Inc's iPad are beyond the reach even of many in the fast-growing middle class.
The device, however, ran into rough grounds when only 10,000 units of the first-generation Aakash were shipped since October last year. The relationship between the device's manufacturer, DataWind, and a government research institute soured amid complaints by test users that the processor was too slow, the battery life short and the resistive touch screen hard to use.
Sibal said: "First, we have to get Cabinet approval. Then it comes back to us, then of course it will be floated."
India has a reputation for creating affordable products that are easy to use and sturdy enough to handle its rugged environment-from Tata Motors' $2,000 Nano car to generic versions of pharmaceuticals.
But despite being a leader in software and IT services, India trails fellow BRIC nations Brazil, Russia and China in the drive to get the masses connected to the Internet and mobile phones, a report by risk analysis firm Maplecroft said last year. (ANI)