The Tablet industry is progressing aggressively and is likely to touch 5 million units in year 2013-14 – Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, DataWind

Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, DataWind

Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, DataWind

Vikas Gupta-  What is your strength in Tablet business?

Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli – DataWind is acknowledged as the inventor of the least expensive computer tablet for wireless internet access globally, commonly known as the ‘Aakash Tablet’. It is the only company that arose to the challenge of helping the Government of India’s, Ministry of Human Resource & Development move ahead in the direction of achieving its own version of OLPC program that envisaged providing students with an indigenized computing device for less than $35.

A leading developer of wireless web access products and services, DataWind has been in the mobile web access device space for a decade. Its success in the UK market is well established through its continued ‘Star OEM Supplier’ status for its PocketSurfer and UbiSurfer suite of products to Vodafone UK.

Driven by its vision of helping the next billion bridge the digital divide, the company derives its strength from its patented technologies in web-delivery that lowers the cost of access for the user and at the same time optimise and accelerate content delivery on the already congested and strained prevalent GSM networks.

DataWind has been able to further strengthen the affordability quotient of its devices by virtue of its ability to squeeze the supply chain margins through internal development of high value components such as LCDs and multi-touch capacitive panels that it manufactures locally at its facility at Amritsar, India besides the large economies of scale.

“Despite the recent drop in value of the Indian Rupee, we are committed to maintain high standards of affordability in computing and internet access to India’s masses.  With this commitment, we’ve held strong and are now introducing new products with endearing pricing”

Vikas Gupta-  What kind of distribution network you are planning?

Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli – Aakash Tablets as you are aware is a central government project and thus all the supplies for this program are made directly to the government and its identified constituents. As for UbiSlate which is the commercial/retail version, we are building a regional and national distribution network.

We are currently fulfilling end-customer requisitions through our direct sales channel i.e. our own e-tailing portal on DataWind website. Besides this we have tied up with leading e-commerce and e-tailing companies here in India such as Flipkart to expand the reach. On the other hand, our sales team is in  advanced stages of discussion with LFRs and is also working on a grounds-up approach to establish physical off-the-shelf channels across tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Eventually we intend to have a presence in over XXXX PoS across the country in the next 18 months.

Vikas Gupta-  How big is the Tablet market in India? How Datawind is positioned in Indian market?

Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli – Looking at the high subscriber base, the Tablet industry is progressing aggressively and is likely to touch 5 million units in year 2013-14. The total shipment of India tablet market was 905,000 in Q1 2013, thereafter increasing to over 12 Lakhs in Q2 and around 15 Lac in Q3 2013.

As one of the top three players in the country, we are happy with our modest growth in the last 12 months and look forward to progressively increase our share of market.

Vikas Gupta-  Do you have near term plans to collaborate with channel partners in India to ensure the device availability for common masses?

Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli – We are expanding our sales team as also we are constantly evaluating partners in progress.  As part of this process, we are in dialogue with varied distribution network owners.  We are aiming at a pan India presence of over XXXX outlets in the next 18 months.

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Vikas Gupta-  How strong is your Amritsar plant and how many units are you manufacturing from there?

Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli – Our Amritsar facility is the only plant in the country that produces multi-touch projective capacitive screens and has the capacity to produce upto 10,000 panels per day.  As the central government looks to procuring over 150lakh units over the next 12 months, weare  in the process of ramping up our capacity to as much as 40,000 units per day.

Vikas Gupta-  How are you able to make the product so cheaply?

Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli – DataWind prides itself in the art of Frugal innovation. Over the years we have invested heavily in creating and patenting technologies that help deliver the internet at a lower cost to the customer. Our in-house design and software facility in Montreal, Canada backed by commercial grade production of LCD panels and capacitive touch screens in Montreal, Canada and Amritsar, India allow us to maximise upon our supply chain margins to ensure lower cost of hardware for our customers.  Our engineers work collaboratively with several app developer groups that firmly believe in the power of open source content and applications.

We conceive our products to be more ‘practical in nature’ –  as in focus on the real need of the target customers than an over-kill on features – that are ‘more bells and whistles’ or are really unwanted. Moreover as of now we are only targeting the customers at the base of the pyramid, thus the offering has to be most desirable and affordable.

Vikas Gupta-  What are some of the points where Datawind products score over the competing forces in India as well as globally?

Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli – Aakash tablet is unique from the perspective that it was created with a much larger perspective in view – disrupting the cost barrier and ensuring accessibility of technology to alleviate literacy amongst socio-economic classes that would have otherwise not been able to access it.  The next logical step after literacy goals is also to create an environment of app development that can help increase access and facilitate go-to-market conditions for self-employed and handy men.

We see this product line as an enabler of social good…we see this class of products delivering extremely affordable internet access that will enable socio-economic upliftment in the long term.  In the long run, we would like to offer this product in a manner that it not only offers the lowest cost of entry for the user but perhaps offers the customer with free internet access.

Besides the biggest differentiator for DataWind Tablets is their ability to increase the speed of access of the internet and the content delivery thereon.  Also our tablets come preloaded with a range of educational, entertainment, and utility apps for all age-groups. The products are powered with free E-Book App for Class 1 to 12 NCERT in English, Hindi & Urdu Medium; Test Preparation Tool; Free Higher Education & Soft-Skill Courses powered by CEC London; English language learning tools; Interactive Multimedia-rich educational resources; Bollywood Music and Movies; Antivirus & Anti-theft Pack by E-Scan; Map My India Navigation; exciting games and much more. All these value added pre-loaded applications are at no additional cost to the user.

Vikas Gupta-  What are Plans for Datawind in 2013? Are you planning to come up with any unprecedented marketing initiative this year?

Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli – Our priorities continue to evolve to meet our vision of helping bridge the digital divide and get the next billion on to the internet. We will follow through on all ethical business practices that help foster an environment of internet and internet enabled literacy.  Our ultimate goal is to operate in a manner that makes internet accessibility to user for free in the long run.

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