Shame on you, Sibal

The $35 tablet computer unveiled by Human Resources Minister Kapil Sibal is an outright lie on the Indian people and an insult. That the man who presides over our educational system would do it makes it a lot worse, even though we know he is also a lawyer and a politician. Readers of this blog know how I feel about these theatrical announcements, including the one on the $10 laptop last year. I refrained from immediately weighing on it mainly because I would be repeating most of my thoughts on the subject and the sheer absurdity of the whole thing.

I am glad I did because I found an even forceful, and extremely insightful, voice on the subject on PCWorld magazine’s website. The article itself is written by Mike Elgan, a journalist with a sister publication, ComputerWorld. He pulls no punches.

The story is headlined:

Why the $35 Tablet Will Never Exist
Why does the media fall for the same hoax again and again?

Elgan demolishes the ‘story’ in three ways.

One, he rightly says these types of “breakthroughs” are a “cheap gimmick” to “get press and win votes.”

Two, Elgan raps the mainstream Indian media for being “too gullible, shameless and lazy to report this story with even the slightest hint of skepticism.”

Finally, he points out that the touchscreen used on the device will alone cost $35 in the Chinese or Taiwan market; and solar panels to charge the battery will cost another $35. Remember, India has no expertise in hardware and is incapable of making most of the components used to make PCs.

Apple’s iPad, for example, is estimated to cost at least $229.35, without Apple’s software. Also, the touchscreen and display unit alone costs $80. Similarly, HTC’s Droid phone is estimated to cost $179.11. Both estimates come from a speicalized company called iSuppli, which strips down each component in PCs and phones and calculates the manufacturing cost.

Shame on you, Sibal.