The Indian government has build a low cost computing and Internet access device that it expects will cost around $35 (approximately Rs. 1500), and with mass production, expects the price to drop to $20, and ultimately $10 per piece. But the real question is  – what can it do?

Details are sketchy, but we have an image below that indicates that this is not a USB drive. According to reports, it has the following features:
– Linux operating system, Open Office, 5″-9″ touch screen and browsers according to the Indian Express.
– A touch screen and a built-in keyboard along with a 2 GB RAM memory, wi-fi connectivity, USB port and powered by a 2-watt system to suit poor power-supply areas, according to The Economic Times.

The Bombay Stock Exchange Site On The Tablet

– Video-conferencing facility, a Pdf reader, unzip tool, and storage (though no mention of how much storage), according to the Hindu, which also adds that work is being done to fit this with solar panels (which we expect should increase the cost)

While the price of the device is a key factor, one also has to take into account cost of connectivity, distribution and CAPEX involved in manufacturing: you can’t mass produce at $35.

Also read: The $10 Laptop: A Myth

How It Was Built?

According to an official release from the government India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development received a lukewarm response to the device from corporates in India for building it. it subsequently held discussions with professors and experts from educational institutions like IISc (Bangalore), IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and IIT Bombay.

Students were guided to produce the mother board for such low cost devices with ample flexibility to change components, and a B. Tech student from VIT, Vellore created one which cost $47. The PCB of the mother board was fabricated at IIT Kanpur.

What Next?

Now IIT Rajasthan and some other IITs and technical institutions are apparently setting up research teams to try to lower costs. Media reports suggest now that the target for launch is 2011, and the government is going to get in touch with private manufacturers, now that the prototype is ready.

What really matters is the content, and the government, which is pushing for increasing connectivity, with nearly 8500 colleges in India already connected, wants to push its online content from their portal Sakshat.