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Monday, Dec 09, 2002

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Encore to scale up Simputer output

Vishwanath Kulkarni
V.K. Varadarajan


ENCORE Software Ltd, which jointly developed simple handheld computer known as Simputer along with a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, plans to scale up the production of the gadget to 10,000 units a month by June next.

Currently, a few hundred units are being contract-manufactured by Peninsula Electronics in Bangalore, whereas the company has also signed up with TVS Electronics, which is about to start manufacturing soon.

"We are planning to tie up with a third contract manufacturer soon," said Mr Vinay Deshpande, CEO of Encore Software and managing trustee of Simputer Trust. "We are looking at shipping about 1,000 units in January, 3-4,000 units by March-April and scale up to some 10,000 units by June," he added.

Encore is shipping Simputers initially for institutional users for test-marketing both in India and abroad. Various State Governments, the Central Government, banks, NGOs and Media Labs Asia were currently testing the product for its ruggedness and ease-of-use for various applications ranging from micro-banking, e-governance to sales force automation etc, Mr Deshpande said.

"We have got good response from pilots and we expect large orders from institutional users over the next few months," he said.

Simputer, described by the Time magazine, as one of the best ten technological innovations of 2001, was mainly developed with an objective to make the common man familiar with computer - aided services and to enable online services to penetrate rural areas.

Encore was also planning to come out with a wireless version of Simputer, he said.

Presently available in four configurations, Simputer is priced in the range of between Rs 13,700 to 27,000 per unit including taxes. Armed with an Intel strong arm processor and a memory capacity ranging from 16-14 MB of SDRAM, Simputer runs on free software Linux, has a touch-sensitive LCD display panel and enables smart card reader/writer.

"We have approached the State and Central Governments seeking tax concessions and if provided, the cost would come down by more than Rs 3,000 per unit," Mr Deshpande said.

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