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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

July - 2010 - issue > Cover Story

DataWind Enabling Internet for the Masses

Jaya Smitha Menon
Friday, July 2, 2010
Jaya Smitha Menon
It took 100 years to get 30 million landlines in India; but it took only ten years to get 600 million mobile phones. "Just imagine how powerful it would be if the same number of Indian homes had internet", asks Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of DataWind. However today there are lesser than 10 million internet-enabled computers in the whole country. Tuli’s vision for India has a powerful social dimension and closely aligns with the model put forward by Sam Pitroda, Father of Indian Telecom Revolution. "The product needs to be low cost, but it also should make commercial sense" says he. Tuli knows fortune lies at the bottom of the pyramid. He knew, if internet and the devices become affordable, it is just a matter of time that every Indian home gets to use it.

He along with his brother Raja Singh Tuli, embarked on their third entrepreneurial stint DataWind with a unique idea of a combining low cost device with free connectivity. "The combination of fast and free access to the ‘real’ internet will be a winner in the emerging markets where the volume is much greater, and the needs slightly different" says he.

Over the next ten years, India will become the world’s largest and fastest growing internet market, and people will say that this revolution was obvious. The key question, then is to understand what circumstances will facilitate this revolution? The recent 3G network auctions will certainly help, but that will not be adequate. The masses can’t afford Rs.25,000 computers, and Rs.6,000 in annual internet costs. The cost barriers need to be broken, and once that happens, the flood gates will open. DataWind has thrown down the gauntlet in this regard, and challenged the industry with an aggressive price proposition.
Datawind’s product Ubisurfer is a internet connected netbook, with the Microsoft Windows CE operating system and powerful Softmaker office suite at an attractive price of Rs7999. Today it is the most aggressively priced netbook in the market.

"For any product to be successful and long standing in the market, the addressable market should be of a substantial size" says Tuli. He knew, that internet would sooner become inevitable to the lives of even the common man.

To make the product stand ahead of competition, he knew he should position it in a way that the product not only provides seamless connectivity but also is portable and affordable. He was striking the right chord by focusing on the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.

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