Impact of $35 tablet (Aakash) on the mobile eco system

The media tablet is roughly segmented into two markets (premium - Apple) and non-premium (Amazon, Google, Barnes and Noble etc). The fastest growth is coming in at the $200 and under tablet category. While the $200 tablet is a great price,...


The media tablet is roughly segmented into two markets (premium - Apple) and non-premium (Amazon, Google, Barnes and Noble etc). The fastest growth is coming in at the $200 and under tablet category. 

While the $200 tablet is a great price, it is not affordable for many, in developing countries. Entrepreneurs in India are targeting consumers with a new category of $50 and under tablet. This dovetails nicely into IDC's 3rd platform prediction (billions of users, with millions of apps).

In India, entrepreneurs have introduced $35 media tablet called Aakash. The  customer response has far exceeded initial expectations.The new segment of under $50 media tablets in developing countries are bare bone media tablets. However, by taking an extreme approach to functionality and features, they have the ability to go up the value chain (if needed). The under $50 media tablet is also looking at new business models including distribution. advertisement based revenue streams. Amazon also ventured into this territory (advertisement) with its new lineup of kindle fire.

For enterprise managers in developing regions, the scenario of employees bringing in media tablets (BYOD) is bad enough from a security view point, but the potential loss of productivity by distraction from advertisement-based tablet models maybe a bigger issue. Like the "use and throw sim cards" prevalent in developing countries, the low cost affordable tablets may help circumvent the MDM solutions.

From a software app provider perspective, this is good news. The app market will grow faster in developing regions, and will open new monetisation opportunities. The telcos in developing regions will be able to provide value added data services to cater to the needs of consumers. MDM market will evolve and tap into such potential (providing security) in developing countries.

Developing regions will be able (potentially) to leapfrog into the next wave of technology driven by affordable hardware. The $35 tablet relies on cloud computing to reduce the processing load on the device. The $35 tablet aims to bundle affordable data package with the device. 

Users can choose to get more robust features by moving up the tiered pricing (example better camera, better screen). Significantly, the pricing is helped by reduced spend on mobile software OS (Android). Even developing countries with limited budgets are  planning to roll out such devices in the education market, and provide it for students.  

India is planning to roll out 8-10 million such tablet devices to help students learn, and be competitive in the new economy. Access to such information integrated into a print environment should help spur page growth.

It will be interesting to see if vendors emulate similar bare bone models in developed countries. Customers are used to feature rich devices in developed countries. However, sub segment of the developed market may also be receptive to such initiatives (example education) . Print OEMs will hope such use (education) will spur print pages. Overall, competition and innovation will help the tablet market continue its impressive growth.

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