Last week, the tech world went crazy over Amazon’s announcement that they will be releasing a 7.5 inch tablet dubbed the Fire Kindle for $199.99. While not as audaciously innovative or powerful as the more expensive iPad 2, the price reflects this difference correctly. Yet the Fire Kindle would not be the cheapest end-of-year tablet creation to be announced – not by a long shot. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the unnamed unspecified $50 tablet currently being produced by India’s Ministry of Education.
Now, let’s be clear that as of this moment, you have to be enrolled in a school in India to be given this tablet, and that there are no immediate plans to market this device in the near future. But if the Indian government can procure a working tablet computer for $50 a piece wholesale, then there’s some serious potential for undermining the current tablet market in general. The existence of such a tablet raises questions about the value of the tablets currently on sale.
With that said, the $50 tablet in question is not without it’s apparent pitfalls; an obvious result of its economy. It’s one half inch smaller than the $199.99 Fire Kindle, and obviously kept out of the loop when it comes to tech support and mainstream tablet apps licensed to be sold for particular devices. The touchscreen is not nearly as precise-to-the-touch, demanding some tough presses and swipes to work.
But the $50 tablet comes with two USB ports, an HD screen, and access to Wi-Fi, making it just as web-accessible as any netbook or tablet with equal processing power. Built for students, the devices surely must be sturdy and suited for a drop or two. There’s even talk of a new incarnation being solar powered – which could be revolutionary in a country where millions of people still live lives absent reliable sources of electricity.
As far as the United States tablet market is concerned, there isn’t much worrying on the end of manufacturers that a dinky device whipped together by the Indian government for school children is going to threaten their business. But on a global scale, this thus-far dependable design could mean serious changes in the way tablets are marketed. The expensive tablets appeal only to those who want an easier life and some novelty thrown in on the side. Cheap tablets are built to accommodate those who otherwise would not be able to afford access to tablets or any computer in general.
The next time you feel your jaw drop at news of an awesome tablet breaking the $150.00 marker, consider how it’s possible to build one that’s a little crumbier for $100 less. Add a little more punch to the $50 model and you have a device as strong as the Fire Kindle for only $100-150.
If manufacturers catch on, the tablet industry could suddenly get a lot more interesting – and tablets themselves might get a lot cheaper as a result.