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.