----- Original Message -----
From: "Manjunath, Bharadwaj (Cognizant)" <MBharadw@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "'India Gii'" <india-gii@xxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, July 05, 2002 4:33 PM
Subject: [india-gii] NEWS: 'Simputer' to be rolled out this month
'Simputer' to be rolled out this monthwrite,
India is ready this month to roll out its $200 "Simputer", a handheld
computer aimed at wooing the poor across the digital divide.
"The waiting period is almost over. We are near the take-off stage," Vinay
Deshpande, chairman of Encore Software Ltd, one of two firms with licences
to make the device, told Reuters late on Thursday.
The Simputer -- short for simple, inexpensive and multilingual computer --
was launched in April 2001 by the non-profit Simputer Trust, formed by
officials at Encore and professors from Bangalore's prestigious Indian
Institute of Science to license designs of the device.
The Simputer, which has been delayed by funding problems and marketing
concerns, aims to help India's poor and rural folk who cannot read or
but high-end users and overseas buyers have also been wowed by itsfeatures.
Resembling trendy handhelds such as those built by Palm Inc, the Simputer
has easy-to-use applications including voicemail, text-to-speech
capabilities and Internet access.
Powered by an Intel StrongARM processor, the Simputer runs off two
pencil batteries and comes equipped with 32 megabytes (MB) or 64 MB offigure
"In our trials, we found that 'one size fits all' doesn't work because it
also means one price and one particular configuration," said Deshpande, an
engineer educated at Stanford University in the US, who is a pivotal
in the trust.and
"We are now making a range of Simputers with different configurations and
prices ranging from Rs 10,500 to 23,000," he said. Equivalent to roughly
$214 to $469, this figure compares to average annual Indian per capita
income of about $450.
Trial orders have come from state governments, consumer goods companies
co-operative banks, all of whom are pushing into rural areas, where two-has
thirds of India's population of one billion live.
The Simputer, which answers critics who say India's software revolution
bypassed its poor, is expected to help spread their use in a country whosein
installed base of computers is barely six million.
India's desktop personal computer sales fell 11 per cent to 1.67 million
the year to March.we'll
PCs are relatively costly in India. At about $200, the Simputer would be
three times cheaper than a PC, and cost nearly the same as a cheap colour
"We are in the process of making about 200 Simputers this month and about
1,300 to 1,400 by September based on potential and existing orders,"
Using free-to-use Linux software, the device allows personal data to be
stored through a smart card, so enabling many users to share it.
Sales of the Simputer are likely to rise to 50,000 by late 2003, Deshpande
"The profit is not in delivering hardware but solutions (for end use),"
"We are tying up with software developers who'll make applications and
deliver that box with the solutions."the
Trial sales have already been made to a number of countries including
Sweden, Australia, France, United States, he said.
Encore plans to cater to overseas sales of the Simputer through a separate
company based in Singapore.
It expects to conclude a tie-up within a month with a few large Indian
information technology companies, who will in turn sell the Simputer to
lucrative mass retail market.
"We are too small to take the Simputer to the retail level ourselves,"
Deshpande said. "These firms will buy the Simputer in bulk from us and
distribute and support the product."