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New $35 tablet to compete with iPad?

Posted by Dr. Burton on July 24, 2010 in Android, Education, iPad, Mobile, rant |

Today I learned that a University in India developed (prototyped) a new tablet that will run the Android OS, has a video camera, supports Flash, has a USB port and only costs $35.

First, I would like to say to the students and faculty: congratulations and well done!  It has always amazed me what a group of dedicated students and their mentors can accomplish (having created an iPad app with no iPad to test it on with a group of students in less than 60 days, I know the wonderful feeling such a success can bring to the faculty and students).

Of course there are a bunch of naysayers out there saying it can’t be done for that cost, what is the point, how will this benefit students, etc, I would like to take a moment to respond.

$35!?!  How can they do that?
First, many are saying it can’t be done for $35.  I agree, it couldn’t be done in the USA or Europe for $35.  But India is also home to the $2,000 car (I would love to be able to buy one of these)!  And I’m sure that we will not be able to purchase it for $35 in the USA.  But having known and worked with many people from India, and having been amazed as some of the technological advancements that have come out of India in the last few years (that are still not available in the USA), I’m betting they get very close to their price point.

What is the point?
Second, what is the point?  Obviously, anyone who is asking this question hasn’t sat down and thought about it for more than 10 seconds and just needed to fill column space or just want to post a comment.  There are many points! First, a group of college students developed a device that looks to be the iPad killer that so many corporations haven’t been able to produce, and made it affordable.  Second, western countries really need to get their act together.  This device is being targeted for students, with plans to subsidize the cost of producing the device, possibly getting it down to as low as $10 each.  This device was announced by the human resource development ministry of India.  Is anyone listening? India is serious about developing it’s most valuable asset: it’s people!
Only a few days ago I was corresponding with one of my former students who is now working on iPhone development at a major company (by the way, I had 100% job placement with my iPhone development students). He informed me that the company that he works for is having such a  difficult time finding people to develop mobile applications that they are no longer out-sourcing to India and China, they are bringing people from India and China to the USA to develop apps!  What is the point?  If you are serious about feeding your family and keeping a roof over your head, you had better be augmenting your skills!

What are the benefits?
Finally, I have actually seen blogs and comments questioning how this will benefit students.  Seriously?  Are you not sure about this whole computer/internet thing either?  The benefit is that you have the entire internet and all of the classes, tutorials, and learning that is available by having that in your hands.  ePublishing is transforming learning.  There is no need to print a book that is quickly out of date.  Students can easily find the information they are looking for, type a paper, do programming, develop materials that are needed for their employer or customers on a $35 device.  They do not have to purchase thousands of dollars in textbooks or go to the library to find the information.  It is all on the tablet.  I have had an iPad since they came out.  While I do not use it for causal reading (yet), I do use it a great deal for professional reading and research.  I already have a lot of ebooks on my iPad and love it.  So if you are one of those who are not sure what the pedagogical point is, please go back to your chalkboard and paper and pen, write your response in long hand and send your response to me be mail,  I might read it when it arrives in a few weeks.

Well Done!
Again, I want to say well done to my colleagues in India and their students.  You should be very proud of your accomplishment!    I have searched the web to find WHO the faculty and students are who developed this device, but have had no luck.  If you know who created it, I would love to hear from you and link to the developer’s material and website.  I’m looking forward to purchasing one of these tablets and developing on it!

You can see a video of the press release for this wonderful creation on Youtube here:
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