Indian Android news site Androidos.in has broken the news that the $35 “home-grown” tablet touted by the government of India (and lauded by OLPC’s Nicholas Negroponte) looks suspiciously similar (that is to say, identical) to Chinese manufacturer HiVision’s Speedpad Android tablet. AndroidOS reports that HiVision’s tablet was first seen at CeBIT in March, 2010, where it was predicted to retail for about $100.
Androidos is not pleased by the discovery that this tablet, claimed to be the result of development at India’s top engineering colleges, has apparently turned out to be a Chinese import in actuality:
If government wanted to do something like this, why involve India’s top engineering colleges’ name in the whole thing. Why destroy their reputation. Government is just buying a tablet, which I am sure nobody else is buying, in bulk on a cheap rate and then subsidizing it to sell it for $35.
There are many questions now, which Indian government needs to answer. I hope to hear the truth from them in the coming days.
I’ll agree with Androidos: this certainly does raise some questions about what the government thought it was doing. On the other hand, if true it would hardly be the first time the Indian government has made sweeping statements relating to cheap computer tech that turned out not to have much substance behind them.
Back in 2007, in reaction to the $100 OLPC XO-1 project (which they felt still cost too much), an Indian government ministry announced plans to make a laptop for the unbelievable price of $10 (though total costs were estimated at $47 at that point). In 2008, it was announced that it would start at $100, instead. In January 2009, they announced that it would definitely be $10 again (though at that point it was costing them $20)…then in April, 2009, India ordered 250,000 of those “too expensive” XO-1s instead.
TeleRead previously mentioned HiVision back in 2008, when the company produced the first batch of the cheap Chinese netbooks that are now ubiquitous enough to have made their way into Kmart.