It's been less than five months since the world's cheapest tablet launched in India, but its manufacturer DataWind is already at risk of losing the contract to build it. The Aakash tablet went on sale in early January and racked up over 1 million pre-orders in two weeks, but to date DataWind has only been able to ship a paltry 10,000 units. Though there's reasonably high demand, test users have complained about poor screen response, battery life, and overall usability — not surprising when you consider the weak specs of the device.
The combination of slow shipping and poor test response has led the Indian government to re-open a bid to manufacturer the tablet, despite the fact that DataWind had a contract to manufacture up to 100,000 of the tablets, with a strong likelihood that it would get the contract to make 1 million more in the 2nd phase of production. Simultaneously, the Indian government is looking to improve the tablet at the same time as they look for a new producer. Specifically, the Indian Institute of Technology wants the next Aakash tablet to be rugged and waterproof — but at the same rock-bottom costs that it has already been produced at. While the idea of producing an inexpensive tablet to help get India's population online was a noble one (only eight percent of Indians have internet access), it seems the reality of getting this tablet into people's hands is complex, to say the least.