Well, it’s official -- sort of. India’s ultra low-cost laptop was formally announced Tuesday, although product details were sketchy at best. According to an InformationWeek report, the “Sakshat” laptop will have 2GB of memory, Wi-Fi, wired Ethernet, and will use a miserly 2 watts of power. The device will initially cost $20, but is slated to drop to $10 within six months as production ramps up.
The rest of the laptop remains a mystery, however. Key tech specs such screen size, processor, storage, and battery life weren’t released, and we’ve yet to see an official photo of the vaporous hardware. It’s a fair guess to say that the Sakshat, if it’s for real, will use a barebones version of Linux open source software as its operating system.
But is it really possible to build a $10 laptop? India’s education ministry has been a major player in the development of the Sakshat, InformationWeek reports, and it wouldn’t be a shocker if the laptop’s hardware costs are heavily subsidized by the Indian government. By comparison, the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC), which has struggled to produce a low-cost notebook for children in developing countries, has managed to squeeze its hardware costs down to $188 per laptop, give or take a few bucks. Unless the Sakshat is made of cardboard and kite string, it’s hard to imagine it being anything other than vaporware. And until Indian officials roll out an actual model for the world to see -- and hopefully test -- skepticism will remain high.
Then again, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte has discussed the possibility of building a $75 laptop, so perhaps the Sakshat isn’t so far-fetched after all. But 10 bucks? Unlikely.