The introduction of India’s domestically-manufactured Aakash tablet has been big news in the ICT community, and in the tech world at large. The 7-inch tablet, which runs Google’s Android OS and which will be provided to students for $35, has been hailed as a massive step forward in bridging the digital divide, an issue which plagues India to a much greater extent than many of its neighbors.
There are, however, some crucial flaws in the infrastructure necessary to support it. The Aakash is a WiFi only device. Publicly accessible WiFi connections are nearly nonexistent outside of the major urban centers. The ability to bridge that gap with access to 3G networks is limited; in a country where the per capita income is still only about $1100, a $200 per year smartphone connection is a privilege few can afford.
The Aakash helps provide the people of India with access to a reasonably sophisticated computing device at an accessible price. But without the necessary infrastructure, it’s likely to fall by the wayside.