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India's $35 7-Inch Android Tablet To Hit In January 205

Posted by samzenpus
from the little-machine-little-price dept.
indogiree writes "Engadget reports that India has just awarded the manufacturing contract to HCL Technologies. The first shipment will supposedly only contain the 7-inch model and is set to arrive on January 10. It's unclear if the $35 price has stuck or whether India's been successful in plans to drive the price down to $10 eventually with the help of large orders and government subsidies. HCL Technologies plans to initially produce 100,000 units. Among the key features of this India-based tablet include 2GB of RAM, web-conferencing, PDF reader, unzip, WiFi, camera and USB connectivity."
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India's $35 7-Inch Android Tablet To Hit In January

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  • Production cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iONiUM (530420) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:00AM (#33551830) Homepage Journal

    I'd really like to know what the true production cost of this tablet is. If it's low enough that with a few subsidies from the government they can get it down to $35 or even $10, then it leads me to believe other tablets are severely overpriced for no reason.

    If they are indeed overpriced, then why doesn't 1 competitor just come in with a ridiculously low price and suck up all the "cheap" market? This applies to phones as well, which are also very expensive (though we don't often notice due to hardware upgrades from the carriers).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      India also has a $6000 car but most westerners (and especially the USA) wouldn't want it.

      • Re:Production cost (Score:4, Informative)

        by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:17AM (#33551894)

        The base model is $3000, its only if you want the model with AC,Airbags,etc that you pay $6000

        • by lennier1 (264730)

          Is that the same model of car that recently set fire to itself when a salesman wanted to take prospective buyers on a test drive?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Servaas (1050156)
            I'm not up on the various numbers but what Toyota car recently had severe troubles with using the breaks? So apparently manufacturing problems don't just happen in cheap cars.
            • by Pikoro (844299)
              Wasn't a problem with the brakes. Was a problem with the floor mats.
              • Assuming there was any problem at all, it could have been a mistake compounded by mass psychology and media attention. It sounds like it might be another 60 Minutes-Audi type hysteria, the Audi case was where people can swear they pressed the brakes but it turns out they really pressed the gas pedal.

              • Re:Production cost (Score:5, Informative)

                by yakatz (1176317) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:56AM (#33552328) Homepage Journal

                Wasn't a problem with the brakes. Was a problem with the floor mats.

                Wasn't a problem with either. Was a problem with the driver [marketwatch.com]

                As anyone in computer support knows, the most common error code is "ID-10T".
                If you prefer, a "layer-8" problem.
                Could be known in this case as "PICNIC" (here meaning Problem In Chair, Not In Car).
                The automotive technician version: "loose nut between the steering wheel and the seat"
                I could almost go on about this all day.

            • by Joce640k (829181)

              "brakes". The word is "brakes"...

            • The problem Toyota had existed purely between the seat and wheel. Pretty certain that no problem existed at all. People simply stomped down the gas instead of the brakes or some other simple mistake and then blamed Toyota. The mistake Toyota made was that they treated these people respectfully rather than calling them a bunch of lunatics and summarily dismissing their claims.
          • its the same car, but dont know which model the one that caught fire was.
            most prob. the more expensive one since ppl dont buy the cheaper one much

          • I believe Ferrari have just had a recall of their latest model over a design fault that can set fire to plastic insulation in a wing. This makes a serious point. The investment to make a fully reliable modern car from the first production run is stupendous. We shouldn't be surprised if niche manufacturers, or new market entrants, have teething troubles.
          • That was probably a £170K Ferrari 458 [telegraph.co.uk] - they seem to be bursting into flames quite regularly, general recall of the model is currently going on ;-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cmdr_tofu (826352)

          Wikipedia says the Tata Nano started around $2200. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tata_Nano [wikipedia.org]

          I wouldn't want that car (or any car) in Delhi, but for rainy days when I don't feel like bicycling to work in New England, I think it would be grand. Plus the rain might help put out the spontaneous combustion hahaha.

          • Yes, it was supposed to be the 1lakh(Rs 100,000) car, but the actual prices went up, and including the taxes,etc, the price goes up to approx 1.5 lakh($3000 taking a conversion rate of Rs 50=$1)

      • The biggest problem with selling the $6000 car in the US is that it will not pass the safety and emissions regulations that a car must pass to be sold in the US. I am pretty sure that if they could sell the car in the US it would pretty well (although I know nothing about its reliability, so if it is not very reliable, maybe not).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by freedom_india (780002)
        and this from a country that bought Yugo by the thousands...
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Wealth generation for the people who have stock is a good reason.
      The ability for a US corp to make a healthy profit and spend the cash on next gen R and D or to ensure US legislation is well written.
      India wants nation building, tablets are trying to hold cartel like pricing up.
      • Making a profit explains part of it. I don't think your anti-US conspiracy theory works well enough to explain the $35 price. The thing is, even the cost of the pile of parts for any other tablet on the market is a lot higher than $35. Also, almost none of the parts for a lot of the consumer tablets are made in the US or by US owned companies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

        OK, maybe it's real, but maybe not necessarily in the way the Indian government claims, unless they bought/stole the design. It also looks like the Indian government is also subsidizing 25% of the manufacturing cost:

        http://androidos.in/2010/09/the-truth-about-35-android-tablet-from-indian-government/ [androidos.in]

        Someone else pointed out that it's a resistive touch screen, which is a technology that's at least a couple decades old. I wouldn't be surprised if they used the cheapest TN display they could find.

        • Re:Production cost (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:15AM (#33552442) Homepage
          Of course they use the cheapest technology, when they want to produce the cheapest product. The point they want to make is that the consumer doesn't necessarily want to pay the extra money to get the extra expensive parts when they are not necessary for the functionality. You don't need the glossy shiny polished glass surface to check the bus timetable on your smartphone, for example.
          • Of course they use the cheapest technology...

            Indeed. If the device is actually delivered, there will be a number of questions that will really get answered. Is the display tolerable to use? What is the real battery life? How well do the touch functions actually work? Does it survive the first drop (and I suspect that as a small tablet, it will get dropped regularly)?

            • Tolerable for who? It's all about expectations.

              The Western press will no doubt compare it side-by-side with the iPad and go on at great length about all its shortcomings, how isn't as shiny, how the touch-screen isn't as good, how the speaker is a bit naff, etc., but that's not who it's aimed at.

              • I'll compare it to the iPad right now: even marked up to $50 without the subsidy and marked up to $75 to make a profit and another $25 for international shipping and duties, I can buy six of them instead of one iPad. Six. At least three or four of them, even if the numbers are a little off. Since the iPad is intentionally limited in capabilities compared to laptops of the same price, I'd say this thing can afford to be a little behind the iPad in processor speed and touch screen accuracy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        The ability for a US corp to make a healthy profit and spend the cash on next gen R and D or to ensure US legislation is well written.

        Boy, are you crazy.

        Any idea how long it's been since a "US corp" (whatever that is) has spent cash on R & D? And you believe that corporations worry about whether legislation is "well-written"?

        All I can say is that India better hope like hell that Apple doesn't have nukes yet.

        • All I can say is that India better hope like hell that Apple doesn't have nukes yet.

          Epic comment, you should have been modded both insightful and funny for that one :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Apple should remember that India does, in fact, have nukes.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Arceliar (895609)

          All I can say is that India better hope like hell that Apple doesn't have nukes yet.

          Think about it. The mark of the beast. Something placed upon the hand or the head. Impossible to do business without it. Wrought by one who is worshiped as a demigod, but is in fact the antichrist.

          If Apple has nukes, it won't just be the end of India.

          What we're witnessing here could be the beginning of the end. The iPocalypse itself.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            The iPocalypse itself.

            You jest, but I just finished reading Doctorow's political novel, Makers and he makes a good case for why walled gardens = epic EVIL.

            What makes it hurt even more is that a logo that once stood for freedom and invention now stands for limitations and prevention.

    • Re:Production cost (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elh_inny (557966) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:08AM (#33551864) Homepage Journal

      Because, as Apple shows, people are not necessarily going for the cheapest thing.
      Also you're shooting yourself with low profit margins - look at Motorola and Nokia nowadays - they were selling decent phones a while ago and decided to go for the low hanging fruit of cheap phones. That didn't leave enough focus/resources on the smartphones.
      The result is the're both still in big trouble, with Motorola resuscitated by Google's Android as compared to cash rich Apple, who clearly have a strategy that brings in more money and focuses on innovation much more...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sensationull (889870)

        Also you're shooting yourself with low profit margins - look at Motorola and Nokia nowadays - they were selling decent phones a while ago and decided to go for the low hanging fruit of cheap phones. That didn't leave enough focus/resources on the smartphones.

        And thats why Nokia has large market penitration in "the rest of the world", the US is the only one where they skipped out on because of wanting to many rights for the end users when it came to carrier deals. All of Apples 'inovation' is based on other peoples work (Nokia and others for the actual ability to work as a phone), they are really just skilled collage makers pasting together technologies that other people have made into their own product.

      • by symbolic (11752)

        The result is the're both still in big trouble, with Motorola resuscitated by Google's Android as compared to cash rich Apple, who clearly have a strategy that brings in more money and focuses on innovation much more...

        As for Apple - innovation, somewhat, marketing definitely, but there is far too often a design or quality problem of some kind or another.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lxt (724570)
      Two words for you: Resistive touchscreen
    • If they are indeed overpriced, then why doesn't 1 competitor just come in with a ridiculously low price and suck up all the "cheap" market?

      The same reason they are marked up to begin with: Profits. If you mark something down $200 from your original price, you could end up making less money than your competitors even if you DO get their potential customers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If you watch the video of the guy [engadget.com] you'll notice he doesn't say it costs $35 to produce but rather he has a contract to buy a million of them at $35. He goes on to empathically say that this wouldn't be a retail price but this is the price at which it would be delivered to educational institutions. That makes me think it's more heavily subsidized (by all parties involved) than they are letting on. It could make financial sense for the company to get these tablets in the hands of students even at a loss, like

    • Re:Production cost (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nbharatvarma (784546) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:28AM (#33552208)
      This appears to be an initiative by the government to push technology to the masses. I doubt the tablet (if it is not vaporware) will be available at this price for everyone. They will probably subsidize these devices to certain sections of the society. We have something called a Ration Card which is given based on your economic status. You can use that to get a subsidy on food, oil etc. I am assuming that subsidy on the tablet would be based on something like that.

      India probably has the highest growth in terms of mobile devices purchased. The cheapest Nokia mobile set here costs USD 25 and we have Indian mobile companies now (Lava, MicroMax, Karbonn) who are aiming to provide mobiles for USD 10 in 2011. I have seen beggars with mobile phones. That's how low the entry-barrier is, in India. These mobiles do their job well.

      India also has a very good mobile coverage. The areas which are not covered by private providers are covered by the state-owned BSNL. 3G services are going to get rolled out sometime towards the end of 2010.

      The government wishes to push technology to masses. This is a good step in that direction.
    • by kenh (9056)

      Uhm, the production cost of what is essentially a "smartphone without a phone" is in no way related to the production cost of an actual tablet computer using note/netbook-caliber components, add in the Gov't subsidies and the reality that this is a $100 chinese product that is apparently being bought on the cheap due to a lack of interest in the market (read "they are being dumped").

      Thanks jigsawhacker for the link: http://androidos.in/2010/09/the-truth-about-35-android-tablet-from-indian-government/ [androidos.in]

    • by chrb (1083577)

      If they are indeed overpriced, then why doesn't 1 competitor just come in with a ridiculously low price and suck up all the "cheap" market?

      I have seen the 7" apad [www.apad.tv] (iped, epad etc.) going for as low as $60USD on Chinese websites. You can Buy It Now on U.S. Ebay for $100. Also Android phones (Sciphone G15 [mysciphone.com]) for $100.

      But these devices are not so popular in the U.S. and Europe. I would guess that they don't perform as well as a HTC device. Also, a phone is a fashion statement. Having the $100 Chinese Android phone is not going to impress as much as having a $600 "American/European brand (but built in China)" Android phone.

  • 2GB Ram? (Score:3, Informative)

    by drerwk (695572) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:07AM (#33551858) Homepage
    I can not find 2GB RAM retail for less than $35. So the summary is truly amazing, or RAM is not a global market.
    • Re:2GB Ram? (Score:5, Informative)

      by lxt (724570) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:10AM (#33551874) Journal
      The submission is wrong. It's flash memory, not RAM. The TFA even says so.
      • by jginspace (678908)
        Yeah, I also wondered what a "PDF reader unzip" is. The mistake is courtesy of Brian Yalung at nexus404.com. The editor here removed the link but kept the quote (see Related Stories).
        • by jginspace (678908)
          I guess the nexus404.com were just copying the error. I followed a chain of misinformation down thru techpp.com, newlaunches.com, digitaltrends.com - all of whom dutifully copied the 2GB RAM quote - can't find the source. Apparently, according to those reports, it'll run on 2 watts.
    • Re:2GB Ram? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bfree (113420) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:14AM (#33551886)
      Any Android tablet with 2GB of ram would be very interesting, but of course this this has 2GB of storage not ram.
    • by mseeger (40923)

      Hmmm.... how about buying large quantities? A "DDR2 1Gb 128Mx8 800MHz" chip costs less than 2 US$ on the spot market. So you can get 2GB for below 4 bucks as manudacturer (Source: http://www.dramexchange.com/ [dramexchange.com]).

      CU, Martin

      • Re:2GB Ram? (Score:4, Informative)

        by mprinkey (1434) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:27AM (#33551942)

        1 Gb is 1 gigaBIT. 2 GB is 2 gigaBYTES. So, to make 2 GBs, you need 16 of those $2 chips, not two. So, ~$32 for 2 GB of RAM, just for the chips. 2 GB DIMMs/SoDIMMs are in $35-$40 range on the site you posted.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I can not find 2GB RAM retail for less than $35. So the summary is truly amazing, or RAM is not a global market.

      Logic? You fail it. The tablet is not made with retail products. Products are sold for what the market will bear. The retail market will bear higher prices than the wholesale, reseller market.

      • by drerwk (695572)
        Yes, logic, of course. But then the device is more than just the memory, which at best is 1/3 the cost along with display, and battery, and maybe even a processor. Regarding the retail memory market, I doubt the markup is even 10% from wholesale. I don't think OLPC even broke $180 in whole sale cost.
  • If this actually happens and India really does subsidize and sell these Android tablets for $35 a pop to Indian citizens, I predict a lot of U.S. and western geeks will be purchasing them for $100 each on eBay.

  • I buy stuff from China & HK that went out the back door or fell off a truck all the time. It's just a question of the search. I bought a TLR2s for $150, a EOTech 512 for $70, 2 SAPI plates for $90. a VHF/UHF hand held w/ no lis for $50, Timny 3lbs trigger group for $150. and a 13 ft RHI for $600 (plus about $100 in customs/shipping) All new. A $35 TS tablet is not so surprising.
  • Lemme guess, another fine attempt by the Indians to promote a poor man's computer. Like the hugely successful Simputer. I can't wait to see the sleek design of the device. If I were Apple I'd be very afraid.

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