Why the $35 tablet will never exist
Why does the media fall for the same hoax again and again?
Computerworld - "India unveils $35 computer for students," says CNN.com. "India unveils prototype for $35 touch-screen computer," reports BBC News. "India to provide $35 computing device to students," says BusinessWeek.
Wow! That's great! Too bad it will never exist. That this announcement is reported straight and without even a hint of skepticism is incomprehensible to me.
India's human resource ministry announced this week a "breakthrough" solar-powered tablet computer that would cost only $35 in "early 2011." Reports say the tablet was developed at various Indian universities. "We have made the breakthrough and are now ready to capture the market," said Mamta Varma, a spokeswoman for the human resource development ministry.
In the first phase of the rollout, a million tablets would be provided to university students. In later phases, the program would be expanded to primary and secondary students. Millions of students would be using these cheap tablets within a year.
Officials even hinted that in the future the price could drop to $10 per tablet.
The project appears to target a similar demographic and purpose as the One Laptop per Child program, which is still struggling to bring the cost of its nonsolar, non-touch-screen computer down to its goal of $100.
What's really going on
Because the mainstream media is too gullible, shameless and lazy to report this story with even the slightest hint of skepticism, let me spell out what is almost certainly going on here.
Indian politicians have discovered that announcing technological "breakthroughs" that leverage Indian engineering prowess to deliver computers to everybody helps get press and win votes. It's a cheap gimmick that works because of the gullibility of the media.
While the press pays attention to the Big Announcement, hardly any media outlets notice later when nothing ever comes of it. Why? Because a headline with "$35 tablet" in it brings traffic, eyeballs and readers, whereas a headline with "media duped again" brings only shame. So they go for the glory but omit the shame.
For example: In February last year, the Indian government announced a $10 to $20 laptop called the Shaksat. Like the $35 tablet, the Shaksat had 2GB of RAM, but details on other components were impossible to come by.
It was to be rolled out in six months and was to be used by millions of students across India, transforming the Indian educational system and economy. So, where is the Shaksat?
In 1999, a group of Indian scientists and engineers developed a low-cost computer for the poor called the Simputer. It was a Linux-based pen-and-touch tablet with text-to-speech capability. The Simputer was announced with great fanfare by the Indian government. The goal was to sell 50,000, but only 4,000 were ever sold.
- IDC drops tablet sales forecast, sees phablets encroaching on the market
- Samsung to offer 3 new tablets starting Feb. 13
- Tablets remain tops in American gift-buying plans
- 'Phablets' are eating into the tablet market, IDC says
- Apple springs Retina iPad Mini on customers
- The puzzling Lumia 2520 tablet: Will it disappear when Microsoft buys Nokia?
- Dell launches four new tablets -- all on Intel chips
- Few use tablets to replace laptops
- New Kindle Fire HDX's tech support button could push IT to yell 'Mayday!'
- Kindle Fire HDX tablets show big push for business users
- SIP Migration: Addressing CIOs' Concerns Recent data from IDG Research shows that many IT executives are counting on SIP to help them meet employee efficiency and customer experience...
- SBIC: Transforming Information Security This report combines perspectives on technologies with experience in strategy to help security teams navigate complex decisions regarding technology deployments while maximizing investments.
- InfoTech: Cloud File Sharing Organizations are increasingly turning to cloud file sharing solutions to meet end-user's needs for a lightweight and effective collaboration tool. In this report,...
- Rethinking Backup and Recovery As enterprises continue to transform their data centers, and virtualization plays an increasing role in their IT infrastructures, the way data is backed...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed in recent years, and it continues to escalate. All Netbooks White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!