Canadian wireless web access products and services provider Datawind, which made waves in the smartphone and Tablet PC sector by launching the world’s cheapest Tablet Aakash in India, is in the news again and this time they are taking affordable innovation to an all new level.
Datawind will be launching an extremely affordable entry-level smartphone with free Internet in India on March 17. Datawind has partnered with RCom and consumers will be provided with free access to 33 websites as reported by BGR India quoting Datawind’s Founder and CEO Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli. Mr. Tuli also highlighted that Datawind has raised Rs. 150 crore by means of an IPO and all of it is expected to be put to use by Datawind to further this project.
This business initiative by Datawind ties very well with India’s efforts of making technology as far reaching as possible to its masses. When Datawind launched the revolutionary Aakash tablet computers in India in late 2011 the market was rife with speculation about whether or not the large scale success of that project was even conceivable, let alone predictable.
But the success of the Aakash tablets, commonly known as the UbiSlate, catapulted Datawind to one of the top 3 tablet makers in India and the company’s revenue has seen an unprecedented upsurge in recent times. What makes Datawind’s recent success even more commendable is their widely appreciated, yet not widely covered by the media, efforts in revolutionizing the educational sector. Datawind has brought affordable technology to classrooms which in turn have embraced newer methods of learning. Datawind’s success has busted the myth that the education-technology wedlock is only a passing fad and has put speculations of another tech-bubble to rest.
“I don’t care about creating the iPad killer. I care about the 3 billion people who can afford this device.” – Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, Datawind.
CMR recently released their India Annual Tablet PC Review for CY 2014. The report places Datawind at the second place ahead of MicroMax and Apple and second only to Samsung. This is despite of a decline of 9.2% in Tablet PC shipments in India since CY 2013.
Datawind’s new smartphones will reportedly cost around Rs. 3,000 per unit which is pretty close to what some of their UbiSlate Tablets cost. The Indian Express revealed that these entry-level smartphones will come bundled with 3G support, a 1.2 GHz processor, and a 4-inch display running on Android 4.4 KitKat. There are also reports of another phone which might cost around Rs. 2,000 and which will come with 2G support. The free Internet promise will hold good for both these variants.
What this brings into picture is Datawind’s clever and brilliant strategy of homing in on first-time Internet users and acquiring new customers as Internet proliferation in the country continues on its merry path. While some of the bigger names in the smartphone industry have started to shift their focus to the budget 4G market to ensure that they are not missing out on an important price-dominated consumer segment, Datawind’s attempts at targeting the entry-level market could prove to be a masterstroke in the long run. After all, currently there isn’t another noteworthy competitor to Datawind offering free 3G Internet on phones that are extremely reasonably priced for this segment.
Mr. Tuli has previously won accolades for being a pioneer in the edu-tech sector. He was named by Forbes as one of the 15 classroom revolutionaries who are changing the face of education by offering innovative technological solutions to empower students and teachers with the tools they need.
As mentioned above, Datawind is at the right place at the right time and has caught the public’s and the government’s attention by keeping its products targeted at a larger market segment whilst making an earnest attempt in solving a problem as hard as affordable Internet in a country where the lack of basic amenities is still a major issue for governments to deal with. The Canadian company has realized that for its products to succeed it would have to come up with innovative and cheaper solutions to these same problems and work with the governments around the world to make its products and services accessible to the masses.
Keep watching this space for more on this developing story. Once the much awaited phones are launched we will bring you an insight into how they fared along with Datawind’s growth trajectory in the future.