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It’s Friday, which means it’s time again for the innovator of the week match-up.
If you’ve been hanging around the innovations space this week, you probably came across the news that India’s Aakash tablet has landed in the United States. While last week (and the week before), we focused on the nation’s financial health (or lack thereof, depending on how you want to look at it), this week we’re pitting the shiny new Aakash against the market leader: the iPad.
The Aakash tablet: The Aakash hit the United States courtesy of Washington Post columnist Vivek Wadhwa. Wadhwa, received the tablet from Kapil Sibal, the Indian minister of human resources and development, and took it to the folks at VentureBeat labs to pick it apart (not literally, but almost) to see what it could do. They posted their review Wednesday, providing photos in a sneak peak at the Android-based device.
VentureBeat’s Chikodi Chima wrote of the tablet:
Jugaad is an Indian word which means “to make-do.” The Aakash tablet is a Jugaad in a very high tech way. The components inside the Aakash tablet are cheap, and easily sourced. For example, the Aakash tablet has a headphone jack and an audio-in jack, but no external speakers -- an obvious cost-savings measure. However, with the addition of a cheap headphones, and an equally cheap microphone, the owner can make calls on Skype, and has the potential to communicate with people around the world.
The device will retail for about $60 and, thanks to a partnership between the Indian government and Canadian company DataWind, will likely provide 10 to 12 million Indian students with access to the Web and some of the latest features in mobile technology by the end of this year.
The iPad: Walter Isaacson has been making the talk show rounds, answering questions about the life and legacy of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died earlier this month. Isaacson’s biography of the iconic tech giant, much like one of Apple’s most innovative creations — the iPad — has rocketed to the top of bestseller lists.
But Apple has also been making the headlines for another reason. The company is reported to be working on a television that could inspire more cable-TV subscribers to cut the chord and get all of their entertainment via the Web. In fact, Jobs said shortly before his death that he had “cracked” the code for creating an “integrated television set that is completely easy to use.”
Even as Apple appears to be moving toward televisions, the price of the iPad hasn’t budged. It arguably doesn’t need to. But could a tablet that retails for under $100 significantly challenge if not dethrone Apple’s dominance in the tablet market?
It could be argued that if a takeover of the No. 1 spot were possible, HP would have done it already with the TouchPad. That tablet retailed for more than $100 during its initial sale, but it sold out in record time after the price was slashed to $99.
The Aakash, unlike the TouchPad, invites users to tinker with its hardware and software to improve on the design and functionality. Some wonder if this open access could empower the Aakash to compete with the iPad.
Meanwhile, which of the two is the most innovative: Aakash or iPad?
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