India’s $35 tablet is based on AllGo Systems design (specs inside)

Posted by Charbax – July 23, 2010

Indian minister for HR Development HRD, Kapil Sibal announces $35 tablet project. It seems to be based on the Freescale i.MX233 system on chip, with a 7" resistive 800x480 touch screen. Here's my video with AllGo Embedded Systems, a R&D company based in Bangalore India, where they are showcasing their $35 tablet reference design at the Freescale Technology Forum in Orlando last month. This is likely to be the tablet that India's HRD Minister is talking about:

The Bill Of Material is as following:
ARM9 Processor: $5 (Freescale i.MX233)
Memory: $3
WiFi B/G: $4
Other discret components: $3
Battery: $5
7" 800x480 resistive touch screen: $15
Total bill of material: $35

It is of course a honor for me that the Indian Government watches my videos and bases their Government projects on those. I just wish India's HRD would stop attacking the One Laptop Per Child efforts all the time. That Minister is quoted as saying that this project is their "answer to MIT's $100 computer". Why can't he say that this is their answer to the $640 Apple iPad? Why does the Indian Ministry of Human Ressources have to attack the non-profit OLPC organization?

Already back in 2006, the HRD published very harsh statements against the OLPC project such as "India must not allow itself to be used for experimentation with children in this area". After which HRD announced a totally bogus $10 laptop project which resulted in a USB stick. The result of which being, 4 years has passed, and very little has been done to help Indian children at getting any hope at getting a better education using technology.

The $75 OLPC XO-3 design uses a more powerful ARMv7 class processor (3x faster), a 10" capacitive touch screen on an unbreakable plastic Pixel Qi LCD screen that allows it to run 40 hours on a battery instead of 4 hours of this India HRD project! The screen is a very important component, maybe the most important component to make this a revolutionizing success in the whole of India to hundreds of millions of children.

So if HRD wants to make a difference for the Children of India, they need to be open about the specifications of their open source hardware designs, they need to present the options in which ARM Processors they are trying to use, which features that would be included in the SoC and how much HRD would like to support the mass manufacturing of sunlight readable Pixel Qi LCD screen technology. And they should stop positioning this as India HRD vs OLPC but talk about it as India HRD + OLPC vs Apple iPad + Intel netbooks.

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  • Nicolas, Great to find out the actual platform behind the $35 tablet. I was wondering how the BOM cost could be reduced so much! Your post gives the breakup that I wanted to know 🙂

  • I like your videos. I just wish we could find some of these cheap devices that you are always talking about. Sure, if this turns into a tablet we won't be able to get this for $35 as that's the production cost but if it does get released, please tell where and how much?

  • Hadoualex

    Great Job Charbax 🙂

  • nate_the_greatest

    Good find.

  • Hi Nicholas,

    Care to comment on this article:
    “Why the $35 tablet will never exist?”

    Do you think it's possible to make an $15 resistive screen?
    Would it be necessary to import those screens from China, or does India have the capabilities to provide these screens?

    Thanks for your article, makes lots of sense.

  • I am not working in any of those companies that order millions of components from manufacturer, thus I can't really know exactly what the prices are. Some sites like ifixit and other claim to have insider knowledge on the prices and they do research.

    But I am pretty sure the most basic 7″ WVGA resistive touch screens can be made for very cheap. It's basically like a portable DVD player screen, they are mass manufactured. Very few are capacitive so that would either be impossible or it would increase the price by 3x or more.

    I do believe the $35 tablet is possible. The way though it would have to be sold would be through a non-profit like OLPC or some Government sponsored project like India's HRD and it would be sold directly to Governments in large quantities, preferably millions of units per order.

    You won't find that price though at a retailer unless somehow a very big retailer like WalMart in the USA or Aldi/Medion or some major super market chain were to order very large quantities and sell them with low profit margins, high volume, low margin, that is one way those products can be sold. Also there are strategies those stores can advertise cheap prices on certain things to attract the public in their stores to buy other things.

  • Thanks for letting me know, I posted a comment there:

    Moore's law doesn't need to accelerate, the $35 Tablet does exist, I've filmed it:

    You don't need 2GB of RAM, 128MB is enough for a very basic Android tablet.

    100 Chinese companies are selling $60-80 Android tablets at the moment, just check my site, you have to order 10 thousand units though. But prices can be pushed down, and I believe the $35 mark is not far off.

    7″ resistive touch screen with WVGA 800×480 resolution can be made for very cheap, especially if ordered in large quantities. I'd much prefer that they then order it using Pixel Qi LCD manufacturing technology, it wouldn't require much more price per unit but can only happen if millions of units are ordered by some very big orders. That would allow the tablet to be used for reading, it would give it amazing 40 hour battery runtime comparable with e-ink and at the same time have the option to turn on the backlight and thus be like a full normal tablet. But it would be best to use wide view anti-glare capacitive touch and that would increase cost unless millions of units are ordered and paid for upfront to the appropriate LCD screen manufacturer.

    The fact that gullible media should rather report on is not how full of it the Indian HRD department is, I don't like the way India's HRD criticize OLPC either, that is just completely out of place. What the gullible media lacks to report on is how extremely overpriced the iPad, iPhone, iPod and other such devices are, and every other piece of hardware made by Apple and made by the big corporations in this industry that try to imitate Apple. They see how huge of profit margins Apple is doing, how they are literally swimming in huge swimming pools full of gold and money, all the competitors try to maximize profit margins in the same way.

    So the question is not, can a $35 tablet be made or not. It can be made, or for $50 or surely $75, the question is only, is there anyone brave enough to make it and sell it at that price. Right now, there isn't anyone doing any major sales this way.

    Nokia is pretty good at selling $10 mobile phones in the third world countries, amazingly they sell half a billion phones a year that way. Nearly everyone in Africa, India, South America already have a Nokia phone. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. I appreciate it from Nokia that a part of their organization does focus on large volume and low margins. But nobody is yet doing it with anything smart, like some Android based devices like Tablets or Laptops.

    Yeah Laptops, the keyboard and touch pad is actually cheaper than a touch screen. So when there is a $35 Tablet, there can be a $30 Laptop as well. I like tablets, but somehow I think the Laptop form factor has already proven itself to be a useful form factor already and thus it shouldn't be avoided.

  • wow..The tablet looks absolutely impressive. But considering that the BOM at the outset is $35, you will need a subsidy even to set a selling price of $35. I have no clue how the price will eventually come down to $10.

    Also, while this is a pretty good alternative, I doubt if this is the same PC. Didn't Mr. Sibal tell us that the project was completely through educational institutions and that the private sector had little contribution?

  • All I know is AllGo systems quoted that exact same BOM price a month ago in my video filmed at the FTF. And AllGo Systems is from Bangalore India, the same place where the “Indian Human Ressources” thing is coming from, the same city this announcement was made. It could be a coincidence. And who's to know if there are companies that are created by people who also research at Universities. They say they designed the motherboard and ported Android to i.MX233 and that processor sounds like it provides one of the cheapest solutions. I don't know how price difference might be with VIA or Samsung for such ARM9 lowest cost solution.

    The $35 BOM cost that is being talked about is an indication, the idea is that Governments buy this directly from the factory and give them to all the Children, so you only add the cost of shipping containers or something.

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  • Christian

    Except that from that BOM you are missing so many things to before you can sell it :
    1-Pcb production cost,it's not free and not mentioned ….
    2-Assembly cost,again not free and not mentioned.
    3-Case cost,same as above.
    4-Nand cost,where the hell you store the android firmware?Even if it runs from SD you still have to buy one for it to work
    4-Distribution cost(they said 35 usd was the end price)

    All the above account for more than 15 usd.So it's obviously a lie.
    Plus with these specifications you don't have anything more more than a slow wireless PMP.
    Ever wondered why they didn't show you web browsing?Good luck with calling it a tablet.

  • Archos 7 Home Tablet is an ARM9 tablet, $179 retail price in stores in the USA with all of its intermediaries. Web browsing is not as fast as ARM Cortex A8 of course, but it's still very usable I would say. You can watch my video:

    I am sure AllGo might have stated some optimistic prices, based on large orders. But I am pretty sure $35 is not far off. Just look at all the other cheap ARM9 Android tablets that are being sold by many different manufacturers. Be them VIA based, Rockchip, Samsung or this Freescale i.MX233.

    He said processor and memory $8. I don't know if that somehow includes the i.MX233 and 128MB RAM or something like that. The i.MX233 is a System on Chip, it includes USB, video codecs and all other things like that. On ARM devices there are much fewer components required than on an Intel based PC.

    Sure the full out of factory cost may be closer to $50 or maybe it's even $80 if not also being able to order some large quantities confidently in the millions.

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  • Brucedickinson258

    This a great news. The Indian HRD is banking on projects like this to bring easy and uptodate education to the mass. Can you imagine the possibility of this: all the students from primary to higher education recieves these devices, textbooks are downloaded as ebooks (saving cost of paper publishing), these reaches out to remote places where buying new books means waiting for months, teacher-student interaction becomes as needed and not confined to some few hours, supplemental knowledge from the 3g internet provided by BSNL (public ISP), guidelines from HRD reaches all the target audience (students, teachers, administrators) killing slack time of implementation of new education policies. Distant learning brings the possibility of elevating local expertise (imagine teaching higher mathematics in the himalayan terrain, or deep in the many jungles where tribals abound).
    The ultimate aim would be to make education easy accessible,rapidly and cheaply so as to bring up the number of literate workforce, more pool for researchers and to prepare for India becoming a super power 20-30 years the line.

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  • Matt

    Dear Charbax,

    though I might find it ok to be called a fanboy of your ARM-research (keep up the good work) I am definitely not a fanboy of Android.

    Why? Can you mount an USB-flash-drive on Android? Can you WORK with Android, i.e. does it provide a decent word processor or spreadsheet app?

    You fall short when you believe that the tablet as specified above will bring the 3rd World people much further than their cellulars. Both means consuming content solely — and thats not what computers should be restricted to.

    Hence what we need (here) is a tablet running Ubuntu and not Anroid!

    Greetings from Dar es Salaam / Tanzania

  • georgeou

    MIT/OLPC never built a $100 computer; they built a $230 computer.

    The Indian project doesn't compete with the $650 iPad because they're too far apart.

    All that said, India needs to really address the basics first.

  • Guest

    This is being made by the Simputer manufacturing corporation, the same people that brought you last decade's sales blockbuster.

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  • Busybee

    India has developed at least two tablets for 35$ . The one what the minister has mentioned is powered by solar power,boasts of a web browser, multimedia player, PDF reader, Wi-Fi, and video conferencing ability and a built in word processor and run on Linux. This is developed by a combined effort of indian institutes of technology.

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  • Kc63092

    don't worry bruce, the united states and other industrialized country are ready to absorb them to their workforce. heard about third world brain drain? way way back then, now and the future !!!

  • Psngray

    I'm not sure you're correct here. The $35 tablet design the minister spoke about had a mother board designed by a student at Vollure. He said it was a 10 year collaboration of students, educators and other experts. Does that describe the AllGo system?

  • Seo Ilakiya

    nice video

  • Arun Kumar

    2 GB RAM cost only 3$?

  • I think it's more likely 128MB RAM.

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  • This a great news. The Indian HRD is banking on projects like this to bring easy and uptodate education to the mass.

  • This a great news. The Indian HRD is banking on projects like this to bring easy and uptodate education to the mass.

  • Nam3less

    hi Charbax,

    I dont think your BOM is correct as its missing a lot key components. You have not taken into account any SSD which is normally at least 2GB and cost around $8.5 without this Android system wont work at all. Also the most important aspect in your BOM you have missed you havent added any manufacturing and other costs which also run upto $5. Yes are right that at the moment the price for MID in China are around $60-80 but to push that too $35 is a really a hard thing maybe possible in Q1 2011.

  • Sam

    Allgosystem just ported Android on IMX 233 platform and ur claiming that they developed 35$ Hardware board! They are just a Software porting company. Please goof up properly next time. Get your fact rights before you make such a false claim always. Check the IMX 233 video on youtube from Repapsystems, they Allgosystems even copied their video format also! If you don’t believe check the dates of both video publishing.

  • really cool video…thumbs up!

  • Anonymous

    The fact that the media not report on the naive, not like all the benefits of India’s human resources department, I like the way India’s human resources is critical of OLPC, which is completely irrelevant.
    SEO India

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