DataWind is a London based company that has made low cost Tablets available in India to underserved populations. The idea is not to sell top of the line Tablets but to provide communities, schools, and individuals that can’t afford the latest devices at current market prices the ability to get connected to the Internet. It’s an noble mission and one we’ve heard before. DataWind is now preparing to bring its low cost Tablets to the US beginning next year.
DataWind says it will release three Tablets at three price points. The UbiSlate 7Ci will sell for $38. The UbiSlate 7C+ will sell for $100. The Ubislate 3G7 will sell for $150. What makes this prices possible? If you guessed older technology you would be correct. The UbiSlate 7Ci is a 7 inch Tablet that runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on a 1GHz, single-core processor. It contains 4GB of storage that can be expanded with a microSD card. The screen resolution is 800 x 480 and for connectivity. The 7-inch display offers a resolution of 800×480 pixels.
The mid range Ubislate 7C+ adds 1 year of free Internet connectivity but only at Edge speeds. The $150 Ubislate 3G7 will upgrade that connection speed to 3G and adds a dual core processor running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The carrier that will be working with DataWind is RedPocket Mobile.
DataWind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli says: “Affordability shouldn’t be the reason people can’t get on the Internet. We want to specifically reach a customer base that right now is not on the Internet.” The company has garnered high marks for its success in India and says that there are similar underserved populations in the US that could benefit from its approach. According to Suneet Singh Tuli, “It’s easy to criticize our devices based on specs. But prices like this can be liberating in places like that, and there are places in the U.S where affordable technology can have a similar affect.”
I don’t want to sound critical of any company that has a goal to reach underserved populations with lower cost mobile devices and a mission to get more individuals, especially young ones, connected to the Internet. But there’s an interesting issue here. The Internet is growing by leaps and bounds in terms of the size of data that flows through its pipes. While there is still content that can reliably be accessed over 3G connections, lower speed connectivity is fast becoming a thing of the past, and accessing some content is just darn near impossible at those slower speeds. Again, I don’t question the motive here, but I do have questions about the practicality.
DataWind says its Tablets will be available at a big box retailers with online capability to be named later and more information will be available at CES 2014. That might mean that DataWind will be shopping for partners in Las Vegas.