The jig’s up, folks. We all know that you can make a cheap tablet…
Between the Indian-funded Aakash and the Kindle Fire, the world has seen what developers focused on producing an affordable tablet can do. Though they have entirely different purposes, the two tablets created half a world apart from each other may very well usher in a new generation of tablets.
The Fire was designed for consumerism. As it stands, Amazon is losing money selling them at the current price point of $200. They should be able to break even and potentially make money off the tablets themselves once they reach a certain target sales goal. In the meantime, though, they hardly intend to just wave goodbye to profits. The tablet, which ships out in November, comes with free shipping for a month. The timing of course, makes it perfect for a little holiday shopping. By then, Amazon should be seeing black across the board.
The Aakash (Hindi for ‘sky’) was never designed to make money. British firm DataWind collaborated with the Indian government to make a tablet cheap enough for impoverished students to use. The price to make them comes out to be $50, but the government is subsidizing half of it for students. The government recognized that the technology gap was only increasing and leaving their students behind. Since India’s labor force has switched from agriculture to more service and tech-oriented fields, educating their labor force has become one of their main goals. If they fail and their children grow up not understanding basic technology, it could collapse India’s economy.
The Kindle Fire will likely end up serving a similar, though decidedly less noble, purpose as the Aakash. College campuses are abuzz with the notion that the student population will be able to afford tablet technology. The prospect of using apps to study hasn’t been lost on teachers or students. The Amazon App Store may be less populated now than its Apple and Android brothers, but expect more education and online learning apps as educators realize the potential.
iPads have been paving the way for tablets in the classroom, and they’ve shown great promise. For younger students, the touch capability means they don’t have to know what the keys mean and they’re able to connect directly with the interface instead of having to figure out the relationship between a mouse and a screen. With some help from apps, the iPad has even served as a device to help autistic children.
While that’s great for schools that could afford to drop $500 on a tablet for each child, it doesn’t help those who can’t budget for it or those who aren’t able to get one of the hugely contested grants available for upgrading classroom technology. The classrooms and the countries whose students don’t get tablets are going to quickly start falling behind. The Fire and the Aakash should be able to step into that gap across the world and help students and educators make the classroom a more technologically friendly place.