DataWind, the company that spear-headed the Aakash project in India, is now working to expand its base in the U.S. with a similar concept of delivering an ultra low-cost tablet PC to help underprivileged schoolchildren in their studies. The company has reportedly already run pilot projects in North Carolina state of the US and San Francisco city.
According to reports, Arlington, Virginia-headquartered not-for-profit organization Communities in Schools (CIS) completed an experiment in Wake County, where 100 units of the Aakash 2 tablet were used for the students. DataWind supplied the tablets at $45, price point that helped the company bag the contract.
“The price point was a game-changing factor for us. As a non-profit, we depend upon corporate and individual donors to meet most of our expenses, and tight economic conditions put most tablet-learning ideas out of reach for us. The $50 price point of a Wi-Fi tablet (free Wi-Fi is available in many of the student’s neighbourhoods) made it an affordable pilot and something we could conceivably use on a widespread basis,” Chris Evans, a technology entrepreneur who is leading the CIS project in North Carolina is quoted as saying.
According to reports, DataWind has shipped around 2,000 Aakash tablet PCs in the U.S. DataWind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli acknowledgement the company's efforts in the US with such pilot projects.
“When we commercially launch in the US, we expect the US market to reach a million units in the first year (the same quantum as what we’re placing currently in the Indian market), but we expect the market to grow exponentially,” Tuli is quoted as saying.
“Several parents of the students have already asked about purchasing the tablets for their children after the pilot and seemed very happy with the price. Nearly all the parents of our kids live on public assistance, and so it’s very encouraging that they would be so willing to buy the Aakash for their children,” added Evans.
The new report comes shortly after the company hinted at entering the US market and confirmed filing a 'product' with the FCC that it intends to release in the U.S. and India. DataWind plans to officially release the tablet, dubbed UbiSlate 3G7, in the next four to six weeks.
“At this stage, we cannot confirm a date for release, but expect to announce its release in the next four to six weeks. We’re committed to delivering a break-through price, as we continue to focus on expanding internet penetration in numerous markets globally,” Suneet Singh Tuli said in a statement.