A tablet pre-loaded with apps designed for officials has become the laughingstock of the Chinese web. The 'RedPad' is an ordinary 9.7-inch tablet running Android 3.2, but costs 9,999 RMB — about $1,600 US. What are you getting for more than double the price of any other tablet? The world's cheapest-looking leather case, plus a bevy of services designed to bring bureaucrats into the information age, including software that lets them check journalists' credentials, office tools, and links to news sites and microblogs. Though originally announced as part of a joint venture with support from the People's Daily and Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Daily has denied that it played any role in developing the tablet.
The company behind the RedPad has said that it's not trying to make government districts require the tablet, and that the price was set high in order to establish it as the best in the market. But the RedPad has still sparked a fury among netizens, who see it as one more tax-funded luxury for corrupt Party officials. Internet commenters lambasted officials who "openly display their thinking that those in position should be granted special privileges and treatment." To add insult to injury, the classic Communist slogan "Serve the people" is emblazoned on the back of each tablet — we suppose Chairman Mao would have approved.