Are You Ready for a ‘Second Screen’?

In sharp contrast to Sony Ericsson Mobile's decision to focus only on high-end phones comes this little tidbit from Strategy Analytics about a $38 tablet:

On 5 October 2011, India's Minister of Human Resource Development announced the introduction of the Aakash, an Android tablet with a 7 inch screen, manufactured by Datawind and carrying a base price of US$ 38. The government intends to distribute an initial 100,000 units to university students, with potential additional purchases of up to 10 million units. Although the price point is certainly attention-getting, research that Strategy Analytics is in the process of conducting with potential middle class purchasers of “second screen” devices suggests that the price-performance bar for mass market consumer success is considerably higher than the Aakash. A more robust set of specifications, even at a somewhat higher price, will be necessary to tap the potentially large demand for second screens in the developing world.

And I thought the $99 TouchPad was a bargain (if you could get one). At $38, that's practically disposable.

I'm assuming from this report that the “first screen” is some form of tablet, and I have to confess I don't own one yet. It's not because of the price point — there are enough offerings out there that I can find something in my price range. It's because I'm not sure what exactly I am going to use my tablet for. When I travel, I travel with my laptop. When I'm out of the house, I use my cellphone to make calls and text. As awesome as tablets are, they aren't going to replace my PC — yet. As for my phone, it's one of those plain vanilla things that Sony Ericsson Mobile isn't going to make anymore. (See: IPhone Legacy: End of Feature Phones?.)

At any rate, the idea of a second screen is interesting. What exactly is the second screen? As a PC owner, I considered buying a netbook for my son. But the price point wasn't that much lower than a PC, and the functionality was so-so. We ended up with a second laptop. When the first e-reader came out, I considered purchasing one for myself. But again, the price wasn't that compelling. Several more generations of e-readers have come out and I still haven't bought one. I figure if I'm going to drop several hundred bucks, it might as well be on a tablet. Which I guess is technically my first screen.

Even in developing markets, $38 is astounding. It looks like Datawind has a secure market in the India government — for now. But I think Strategy Analytics is right — the Aakash isn't going to appeal to the mass market either as a souped-up e-reader or as a stripped-down tablet. There are too many players in the tablet market, which will quickly drive prices down, and the second screen for many people will be last year's model.

That is, once you buy your first screen.

29 comments on “Are You Ready for a ‘Second Screen’?

  1. Nemos
    October 18, 2011

    If the prices in the tablets continue to decrement like that in a few years, everything will have a touch screen with android os inside. I am going beyond the article, and I can say that don't be surprised if you see the new electronic revolution taking part inside your house.

  2. _hm
    October 18, 2011

    Most people use only 10-20% of feature of most advanced product. It is not really the need of some essential feaures or need of device in itself. But when one has more money, ones need increases to spend this money and they end up buying extra screens – TV or computer or other devices.

    For example, I have advanced laptop at home alongwith two other highend desktops, but I mainly use it only for internet and email. My wife always complain for it. Now, I may like to get iPAD!

  3. SunitaT
    October 18, 2011

    the Aakash isn't going to appeal to the mass market either

    @Barbara, Aakash will be distrubuted among college students at very affordable rates. This device is released by the government of India with the intenet of erasing the digital divide. This device is a very good news for many of Indian rural students who couldn't have afforded a Tablet. 

  4. mario8a
    October 18, 2011


    I guess a lower price will not be atractive but instead people with doubt in Quality of the produt, they should improve their marketing skills… dont you think?


    October 19, 2011

    I hemmed and hawed for a while on the value of an Ereader considering I already have a laptop and smart phone (and I am a thrifty Scotsman too) but eventually I spent the $100 on a Kindle and was immediately hooked.  It is perfect for reading and I like it much better for reading novels than laptops, phones and even the books themselves. 

  6. Jay_Bond
    October 19, 2011

    This sounds like an excellent price point to get many people interested, or to use in schools as cheaper alternatives. My wife and I have the same thoughts as you. We would like a tablet, but wondered what would we really do with it. The laptop goes anywhere when the possibility of work is there, we both have smartphones to take care of things when we don't have the laptop. We had the chance to buy the Touchpad, and decided not to at the last minute because we just didn't see the need for it right now.

    I'm sure the time will come when we buy our first screen, and hopefully just take that along instead of the laptop but who knows when that will be.

  7. prabhakar_deosthali
    October 19, 2011

    What comes in $38 is a base product with limited memory and no camera. The Govt of India will be giving subsidy on this product when it is sold to the students. So my guess is the actual price with optional add-ons and without govt subsidy will turn out to be around $100.


  8. Ashu001
    October 19, 2011


    For a Govt which is in as much debt as the Indian Govt is(which is effectively leading to more and more Money-printing and the end result is Inflation);do you think the Indian Govt can afford to subsidize a Tablet to such an extent(over 50%),especially a device which may or may not be reliable.Would'nt it have made more sense to go with one of the bigger and more established players and get it sold through Govt channels at Cost Price(without any subsidies)???

    Looking forward to Your thoughts .



  9. Eldredge
    October 19, 2011

    @Prabhakar – I suspected that when I read the article. But it sounds like an effextive way to get the product into the hands of the public. It will be iteresting to hear reviews on it.

  10. tioluwa
    October 19, 2011

    I saw a news report about that $38 tablet, and believe me, its no ipad or playbook. its a very low quality version of a tablet designed just for students.

    I don't see this tablet as a game changer or a competitor. it is just to make life easier for students, it can hardly do anything else.

  11. prabhakar_deosthali
    October 19, 2011

    for those interested to make a comparison with the currently available tablets here is a link to the specifications of Aakash


    It is learnt that the tablet is already costing the govt  $50 but will be sold at a earlier promised price of $50 to students and will be available for $60 in retail stores for general public.


    The govt of india has gotten this tablet developed by a UK company and the tablet will be manufactured in India by Indian manufacturers.


  12. Ashu001
    October 19, 2011


    My opinion has'nt changed.Its nothing more than an immense waste of taxpayer resources and a Publicity stunt for Kapil Sibal.

    If the Govt was genuinely interested in promoting widespread tablet adoption,they could very easily have waived all Sales& Import Duty taxes on the existing tablets in the market.

    Anyways,The market will eventually decide whether to accept or reject this Tablet.Just like the Nano.It failed and failed quite decisively-primarily because of quality issues.




  13. Backorder
    October 19, 2011



    The introduction of this tablet at $ 38 is only a move to get target market to accept it without second thought. For students coming from rural and low-middle class background price point is the prime concern. And, providing millions of such students with a computing device is what the vision seems to be. “Bridging the digital divide”. The human resource minister in India is a charismatic person, who likes to be in the spotlight and hence is subsidizing and ushering this project in a grandiloquent fashion. As far as the inflationary and debt concerns go, the strain on the exchequer would be a fraction of what some other ministeries/ministers inflict through senseless spending. At least, the cause in this case appears to be noble.

  14. Ashu001
    October 19, 2011


    Here's a great article regarding the Aakash launch.

    Basically will believe it when we see it.

    The track record of the current Indian Govt has been a massive disaster(the low cost laptop is but one example).

    Its a govt which talks big but is unable to walk the talk.



  15. Ashu001
    October 19, 2011


    If it really was a question of bridging the digital divide/bringing millions of those across rural India online then we already have such a Device available to all Indians-Its the Cellphone/mobile.

    Just provide adequate Taxbreaks to Telecom providers in the rural sector and on all low cost Mobile handsets and Voila!!! Let the market decide and pick the right winner.Instead of trying to forcefeed a market as vibrant and diverse as India.The Govt will fail just like all past ventures here.

    Its another publicity stunt from Kapil Sibal.No more,No less.




  16. Taimoor Zubar
    October 19, 2011

    I do agree with Prabhakar that $38 is the price after government subsidy. I think this is one of the best things any government can invest in and Indian government is doing the same. Already governments waste so much money in useless projects. What they need to do along with this would be to also improve upon the infrastructure so the internet access on these tablets becomes easier and cheaper. If the project is a success, it would really help the students and prove to be a big boost to the economy.

  17. Backorder
    October 19, 2011



    Of course, I was trying to be polite when I said he was a “Charismatic” person. Thanks for putting it in so many words. My thoughts resonate with yours on that count. 

    Let us put aside, for the sake of discussion, the step taken by the govt. here and look at the problem at hand.I still think that the low cost cellphone already has a huge penetration and does not cut it as a computing device. Think high school and college students in tier 3 cities and below-Cellphone today is ubiquitous. Majority do not own a computer or a smartphone.More fundamental to our understanding would be what a high school/College student does essentially need from a computer and what are some of the primary concerns.

    a. Should have Internet Connectivity, USB, Audio out. Average resolution display and simple I/O interface. 

    b. Software should allow basic functions: Internet Browser, Document editor/reader, presentations, Spreadsheets.

    c. Can have limited multimedia features.(HD would be a bonus)

    d. Limited performance and storage would be Okay. Two hours on battery or more.

    In my humble opinion, a price point close to Rs. 3000 for the above set would be attractive to the crowd I mention and if the device doubles up as a Phone nothing like it to attract youngsters as they come up. 

    So far, It appears Ubislate and Indian Govt. have got it right on the above feature set. What remains to be seen is if it gets a warm reception and positive reviews. Unless there is some bug/major drawback/irritant with the users which results in the tab getting negative press, the project looks good for initial pilot run and beyond. There is no other alternative in sight as yet.








  18. t.alex
    October 20, 2011

    Rememer the OLPC program when companies tried to achieve 100USD laptop? Until now, it ends up with lots of netbooks but at higher price than 100. It never reaches 100.

  19. JADEN
    October 20, 2011

    @ Barbara, you may be right that Aakash is not going to appeal to the mass market because it is not designed for mass use, the target are students and if students could found it useful and appealing, I think it's going to stay.

  20. Anne
    October 20, 2011

    It seems India's model of growth is being driven by the simple economies scale. Aakash is actually one technology among other cheap innovations that sweep India now. Few years back, India built the cheapest car Tata Nano, these Indian innovations may not be of use to developed countries but underdeveloped countries will embrace it.

  21. Ashu001
    October 20, 2011

    Backorder, I had posted on this issue here as well. Lets just wait and watch the initial reviews and results first. At the price-point you mention[Maximum USD 60];there are about 3 smartphones(with reasonable internet connectivity in the Indian market today] However none of them come from the major/well-established vendors. That's primarily because of the Huge amount of Sales tax slapped on all phones sold in India.Give tax-breaks on the lowest cost phones and see adoption zoom upwards… The moment you add more complexity into an electronic product the cost and reliability immediately suffers. This is an issue which will not be escaped by the Akash as well. Regards Ashish.

  22. Ashu001
    October 20, 2011

    Anne, The Nano was actually a big flop in India. The main reason being-People wanted a higher quality product and are willing to pay more for it. Now Tata Motors is planning to export it countries poorer than India like Sri Lanka,Nepal and parts of Africa were they hope it will be a better success than in India. Regards Ashish.

  23. stochastic excursion
    October 20, 2011

    I'm curious as to why the Indian gov't would need to provide tablets to university students.  I would think university students might be on a budget, but not economically disadvantaged.  Also the money might be better spent advancing literacy among the public.

    I wouldn't want to get too dependent on a computer provided to me by the government.  In light of recent events the government may well want to keep tabs on students, and that would be a good way to do it.

  24. SunitaT
    October 21, 2011

    Aakash isn't going to appeal to the mass market either as a souped-up e-reader or as a stripped-down tablet.

    @Barbara, In my opinion Aakash is going to appeal to the mass market. One of the engineering colleges here where my brother is studying is offering this tablet at 1600 INR (32$). He was saying that 90% of the college has registered to buy this tablet. I think 30$ price tag will attract many customers.

  25. SunitaT
    October 21, 2011

    I would think university students might be on a budget, but not economically disadvantaged. 

    @stochastic excursion  in India 50% of the university seats are reserved for economically/socially backward students. They can't afford to buy 100$+ tablets. The main reason behind the government providing tablets to university students is to erase the digital divide between rich and the poor.

  26. mfbertozzi
    October 21, 2011

    Ashish, your great post allows me to put on present board one of the thoughts got back to me while reading Barbara's editorial and below posts. Will be in the future a unique device for everything, I mean for any personal needs? (making call, watching video, word processing, reading e-book)

  27. Tim Votapka
    October 21, 2011

    Barbara – I can relate. Many of these convenience devices such as e-readers and tablets, do not promise the return I'd be looking for. But then, like you, I too am using an old non-smart cell phone, so we're not necessarily prime targets.

  28. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 22, 2011

    I like both my laptop and my iPad tablet but I will not trade the former for the latter. Tablets are great devices, but you don't buy one just to follow the current trends. I bought one because I needed an e-reader, but I was not satisfied with my experience with a standard reader.  I haven't regret my purchase, even though I'm doing “very” little thing with my tablet than I would like to.

  29. Nemos
    October 22, 2011

    In other words, we can call it as over consumption. From one hand, it seems you realize that you bought things than you don't really need or use all the feature of them and from the other hand, you still want to buy things that you know you will not really use them.

    As my father says: “Marketing it the tool how to convince people to buy things that they don't really need”

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