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Datawind answers complaints against Aakash tablet

Nestor Arellano | Jan. 18, 2012
Montreal-based company Datawind Inc. is still labouring to fill orders for its Aakash tablet, but there are already complaints about the ultra-low cost device.

"What service centre is he talking about? We do not have service centres in India," he said.

Kumar also claimed there were people who booked and paid for the tablet but did not receive the product or got a "faulty device."

"We address these, but he has to be more specific. For instance, who are these people complaining, how can they be contacted and what technical problem is actually meant by faulty device?" said Tuli.

Kumar also said that another user complained about an Aakash that failed to boot. This person, Kumar said, asked for a replacement on Jan. 5 and was told by Datawind that he would be given an address to send in his faulty Aakash. Kumar also said he sent an e-mail to Datawind about repair complaints for Aakash but instead of an answer that addressed the issue Kumar received a sales pitch about the launch of Ubislate 7+, a new model of the tablet.

"This is unfortunate. His (Kumar's) e-mail probably landed on the sales support desk somehow and he was sent a standard answer to queries we get regarding the availability of our products. I will look into this," said Tuli.

Internet access and distribution issues

Kumar also wondered how users will be able to connect to the Internet in rural areas and how the Aakash will be distributed to the students.

"How will the tablet get to the students? Even if it does, how are they going to provide education in rural areas without connectivity?" he asked.

Tuli explained that as the Indian government sees Internet connectivity as a big part of its education efforts for citizens, especially in the rural areas, the government is undertaking to subsidize the cost of the tablet to make it more affordable to students.

"The distribution and connectivity issues are better addressed by the government," said Tuli. "But what I know is that students can order the tablet through their schools."

Tuli also explained that while India does not have an extensive Internet network similar to those of North America, the majority of Indians can connect to the Web using the GPRS networks. "There are nearly 900 million people using mobile phones with GPRS. GPRS enables them to access the Internet even in rural areas," he said.

"The government and Datawind are also talking with service providers so that GPRS Web service can be brought down to $2/month," said Tuli.

Production capacity

One problem that Datawind is labouring to meet though is production. As early as December, Datawind rang up 400,000 in sales for the Aakash -- more than the entire tablet sales for 2011 in India, which was around 300,000.


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