September - 2014 - Special issue > Company of the Year - Mobile Internet

DATAWIND: Bridging the Digital Divide through AffordableSmart Devices

Pankaj Kundwani
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Pankaj Kundwani
Out of the 7 billion world population, there are about 4 billion people who still do not have access to internet. These are the forgotten billions whose aspirations have been challenged by the single determinant factor of affordability. Coming to India, the estimated internet penetration is about 100 million, which is less than even 10 percent of the total population of the country. With a vision to deliver to the aspirations ofa huge un-servedpopulation, DATAWIND, a leading provider of wireless web access products and services, takes pride to have breached the affordability barrier by giving the world's lowest cost Android tablet PC while creating a new segment of products that focus on customers at the base of the pyramid.

As smartphones offer triple advantages of portability, connectivity and basic computing, mobile technology emerges to be the most reliable and affordable way for developing countries to meet their internet penetration objectives. Holding several international patented and proprietary cloud computing technologies, DATAWIND addresses the challenges of both affordability and internet infrastructure deficit. Its breakthrough technologies strive to solve the bandwidth limitations of cellular networks by accelerating content delivery by factors of 10x to 30x - resulting in a superior mobile web experience at a lower cost. DATAWIND's web delivery platform harnesses a parallel processing environment that enables it to shift the burden of memory and processing power from the tablet/device to backend servers thus, allowing users to access web with a lower cost device at the lowest cost possible.

Bringing to the World the Lowest Cost Android Tablet PC
As part of its plans to link 25,000 colleges and 400 universities in an e-learning program, GoI's MHRD announced the government's decision of empowering all students and the teaching community in India with a low cost computing device. This device was supposed to give them an environment of blended learning and flexibility of learning on the go. The proposed cost for the specifications that were finally released for manufacture of this device was only $35. Seeing it akin to an impossible task, none of the global or domestic electronics majors in the ICT domain were willing to participate in this project. DATAWIND was the only company that arose to the challenge of realizing the Government of India's vision and delivered 'Aakash' to India and 'UbiSlate' to the world, the lowest cost Android tablet PC at sub $35 price. The launch of Aakash tablet at this price-point shook the very foundations of the global tablet PC market that never deemed it fit or attempted to produce a device that caters to Base of Pyramid (BoP) population.

Going tothe Next Level
DATAWIND is expanding through organized and modern retail tie-ups to make its products more accessible to customers. The company has recently tied up with UniverCell and is looking at similar arrangements in the whole country. Its R&D team based in Montreal, Canada is focused on finding ways to drive the cost further down by 50 percent to once again create a new benchmark in low cost web access devices. "We're focused on empowering people and helping them bridge the digital divide. We are going to find ways and means to breach new affordability levels by driving the cost lower. In times to come, we see ourselves as a leading low cost internet connectivity access provider and we hope to forge such partnerships and adopt business models that allow us to move further on our mission," saysSuneet Singh Tuli, CEO, Datawind Ltd.

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