Necessity, it’s said, is the mother of invention. Small wonder, then, that a new small wonder designed to put computing into the hands of masses has been born in a country with, well, plenty of masses. The government of India has released a prototype tablet computer that it says will sell out of the gate for a mere $35.
The touchscreen tablet can draw solar power and runs on a variation of Linux and has no internal storage, though it’s memory-card ready. On the what-it-does-have-front, those oh-so-few beans will get you a built-in word processor, video conferencing capabilities and, most important, a connection to the internet. Cloud-based computing is a key factor in the device’s low ticket price and compact architecture, as users can access web-based tools and applications through a browser as opposed to programs installed locally on the computer itself.
According to Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal, the device is designed for students and low-income families, and will be made available to 110 million Indian schoolchildren as early as next year. Quoted in the guardian.co.uk, Sibal says, “The solutions for tomorrow will emerge from India. We have reached a stage that today, the motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything.”
At $35, PCWorld, calls the device “virtually disposable,” in comparing it with the $100 XO computer developed by MIT and used in the One Laptop Per Child program. Who knows, the technology might even one-day give Apple’s $500 iPad a run for its money; India says it’s looking for manufacturing partner to mass-produce the device and eventually push the price down to $10. Yeah, that’s right. $10.