After Apple launched iPad and the Samsungs who copied it, things haven’t been the same again. The personal computer market has been redefined; sort of re-invented. However, these waves of gadgety-excellence broke long before they reached the Indian shores. Or have they? After HCL launched ME U1, now Micromax has brought to market an Android 4.0 ICS based 7-inch tablet acknowledging the presence of a large market in India – the school goers! The Indian middle-class family having recently bought a laptop is still wondering whether they need a tablet, if at all they are considering buying one. Turns out these tablets are really not meant for them, but for their kids.
Normally, a personal computer means a personal computer! Something you buy for yourself. But the Micromax Funtab – that’s what they’re calling it, you buy it for your CBSE-school going child. For an additional price of 800 bucks, you get a 4GB memory card pre-loaded with interactive course material meant for CBSE students just like you’d get in “HCL My Edu Tab K12” and “HCL My Edu Tab HE”. Along with the school tuition fees, so long you have been paying additional charges for interactive classroom-boards, audio-visual content etc. that the school used to teach your children. But then again were they interactive enough or personal?
Funtab has a price tag of Rs. 6499/- which is about Rs 1500 cheaper than the recently launch HCL ME U1 tab. It has a slightly faster processor- 1.2 GHz and twice in RAM memory- 1GB. While a Funtab user can get access to the 600 movies, 6000 songs and 400 Video clips and the latest games, apps and TV shows, HCL boasts of a 10,000-app strong ME app store. Only if the comparison were that simple!
HCL has a large presence in the school-education market. Apart from IT services, they’re also in the business of selling smart-boards, projectors, school ERP and customised educational content to the schools. They’re giving a fierce competition to the likes of Tata Interactive Systems, Educomp and NIIT who are also in the similar business. If you’re buying it for your child then why not buy it from the ones who are experienced in education? Although, it is hard to believe that the HCL would have this advantage over Micromax or other competitors in the long run.
Just like developers helped Apple grow like it has, Indian developers, especially the ones who are building interactive courseware or other educational apps is going to play a huge role in the personal-computing-in-education industry. The content that is played on the smart boards would now be played in your child’s hands. It will be more interactive and more fun. So, Micromax need not really worry about developing educational content. If encouraged, the developers will jump right into this opportunity.
Overall, it is good news for the parents who can’t afford iPads or Playbooks for their children. Now, they have a few options to choose from because until now the tablet market has been like an automobile industry with only BMWs (iPads) and Tata Nano (Akash Tablet) to offer! That didn’t work.