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Will Tablets be for e-learning what Mobiles were for Telephony in India?

Mobile telephony has revolutionized India over last one decade. Today, we get free incoming calls and outgoing call rates are the cheapest in the world ($0.01/minute and going down). A fully functional smart phone is available for less than $100 and mobile network is available in remotest corner of the country.

But the scene was very different just a decade back. Mobile technology was largely out of reach of common person – phones were costly, and call rates were almost 30 times of what they are today. And then some of the companies which got new telecom licenses in late 90’s changed the game by offering very affordable phones and low call rates. Rest, as they say, is history.

I think we are at same inflection point in computing and network connectivity in India. Desktop/laptop prices are coming down, but still not affordable for the masses of the country. So is the case with Internet connectivity – not so good connectivity in most Tier II cities and below and prices though reasonable are still not at a level where as a user I don’t have to think about it.

Now, I am going to stick my neck out and predict – Tablet PC’s combined with 3G/BWA networks would be game changer for computing (and technology assisted learning) within next few years.

Why Tablets? Because they are touch driven and hence easier to use, battery life is longer – so charge once and use it for substantial time without worrying about electricity supply, and with volume production they can be suitably priced to come within reach of masses (here I think it’s again going to be some Indian/Chinese company which is going to do the magic with ‘frugal engineering’ and not big boys of the world). We can also have solar charged tablets (just like recently launched solar charged phones) which would make tablets even more attractive vis-à-vis desktops/laptops.

Couple this with reasonably priced 3G/BWA packages and you have a ready consumer base of at-least 500 million and growing (total mobile users in India are around 500 million right now)!

This development according to my opinion will have biggest impact on education and training – currently an area which is vastly under-served due to infrastructural gaps and lack of quality teachers/instructors. After taking care of basic needs, India spends most on Education – so a device that can give a child in some obscure town exposure to best teaching facilities, or provide timely training to a budding professional for career growth, would take a prominent space in household budget allocation.

We at G-Cube are very excited about the opportunities this development can unlock. What are your thoughts? Does this look like a potential game changer?

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