Remember the ‘Sakshat’ tablet PC from India that was one of the most talked about tablet devices not too long ago? No problem if you don’t since the official name of the tablet got drowned by the applause or dismay – depending on which side of the fence you belong to – caused by the ridiculously low price tag of just $35. In fact, the price has been so surprising that it was referred to as simply ‘the $35 tablet.’ The ultra low price led Sakshat to have more detractors than supporters ever since it was first announced in the summer of 2010.
And as things stand right now, the detractors have been proved right as the tablet now seems to have run into rough weather. After all, a mere $35 is perhaps too much of an ask for a proper 7 inch tablet PC running Android. Unless of course the tablet does not get heavy subsidies from the government. This since the components used to manufacture the tablet is itself adding up to almost $125, which is almost 4 times the price that was announced the tablet would cost. In fact, it would even breach the $125 mark if other related costs such as import duties and logistics are also taken into account.
The tablet was supposed to be launched on the 15th of this month though that seems to have been pushed back at the moment. Government sources however are still claiming the project is on track and they have issued a fresh tender after domestic hardware manufacturer HCL Infosystems have been dropped after their insistence on a new set of conditions which the government said are ‘unacceptable.’ As per senior officials in the ministry, the immediate reason for HCL hving being thrown out of the race is their refusal to furnish a Rs 60 crore ($13m USD) bank guarantee which is essential as per the government’s General Financial Rules, 2005. The bank guarantee acts as a security for financial reimbursement in case the vendor fails to deliver within the stipulated time frame.
So all of it has boiled down to the entire project to start once again from the beginning as a new vendor is being sought. “Yes, we have re-issued a new tender. The matter will be sorted out in a few weeks,” announced the official before adding “The Sun will rise in 2011.”
HCL, on their part, had this to say: “We congratulate the Government for their vision on the $35 Tablet. We have no information of a decision being taken. When government was seeking collaboration, we were one of the first to partner it.”
Help is being sought from relevant sources on means to cut costs down while new suppliers from Taiwan and Korea are being tapped for the project. However, sizeable government subsidy might still be necessary as some experts point out, the microprocessor and screen itself add up to more than $35 at current rates.
So it now remains to be seen if the mid 2011 release date of the tablet is met with or that too is pushed back. In any case, a tablet meeting its deadlines is a rarity and the Sakshat, can be said to have lived up to the trend.